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Life study by Ernest Thompson Scton. 
The property of the State of New York, reproduced by courtesy of Governor C. E. Hught 
Exhibited in Salon of 1895. 






Naturalist to the Government of Manitoba 


^^^r*l^l Author of 

■C' ^ifS^Hr^S^ f^ Art Anatomy of Animals w Z. / l".\ 

WfmZ^ Wild Animals I Have Known |^>' '4,^ 

WmM^'%1^ The Trail of the Sandhill Stag \', ^V-^ 

fwWV The Biography of a Grizdy ,§ ^^V^tj, 

MM „ 

The Lives of the Hunted 
Pictures of ■Wild An 



Volume II.-Flesh-eaters 


Published by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, New York Cily :: 1909 


Published October, 1909 







MAPS xi 























































—The Leader of the Pack Frontispiece 


—The Lynx at Bay 678 

—YOUNG OF Canada Lynx (life size) .... 684 

—Life Studies of Various Foxes .... 700 

—FOXES Fighting 714 

—The Fox Springing on the Pintailed Grouse that 

he located by smell as it slept under the snow 726 

—The First whiff 730 

—The Last Glimpse 730 

— scatology of red-fox (all natural size) . . 734 

— M. F. Stevens and One of His Breeders . . 740 

—YOUNG AT Meal Time 740 

—Young foxes on Fur Farm 744 

—YOUNG Foxes on Fur Farm 744 

—Young Foxes on Fur Farm 744 

—YOUNG Foxes on Fur Farm 744 

—Gray-Wolf 750 

—Life Studies of Wolves 754 

—Gray-Wolf Scratching Himself .... 760 

—Gray-Wolf Approaching to Attack . . . 770 

—Blanco in the Trap 774 

— LOBO IN the Trap 774 

—The Greyhound that Followed Too Far . . 778 

—Blood on the Trail 786 

—Coyote Head 790 

—Coyote Family— Nine Pups— Thirteen Miles from 

Denver 798 




























































—The relay Chase 802 

—COYOTE IN Summer Coat . . ... 808 

—COYOTE IN Winter Coat ...... 814 

—Coyote Den 814 

—The Demon of Murder 850 

—The least Weasel .... . 858 

—The Mink . 872 

—The Exploits of the Pet Martens .... 918 

—Skull of Mephitis Hudsonica (natural size) . 968 

—Skull of Mustela Americana (natural size) . 968 

—A Skunk family 976 

—Skunks fighting for a Piece of Meat, while the 
Fox Judiciously Holds Aloof. The Combatants 

DID NOT use their MUSK 984 

—Badger Studies from Life looo 

— Scatology of Certain Mustelid^e (all natural 

SIZE) 1009 

—Raccoon Studies from Life 1018 

—Tracks of raccoon (life size) .... 1024 

—Grizzly Bear 1030 

—"A Narrow Escape" 1046 

—Death Gulch 1050 

—The Old Grizzly in Death Gulch .... 1050 

—Skull of Blackbear 1054 

—Aspen Tree with Marks of Blackbear Climbing 1062 

—Aspen with Grizzly claw-Marks .... 1062 

—Bear's Sign-Post, much marked .... 1062 

—Aspen Once Climbed by Blackbear. Each Claw- 
Mark IS NOW A Bump 1062 

—Ontario Blackbear 1068 

—A Bear Family 1074 

—Scatology of Certain Bears 1086 

—The Shrews found in Manitoba .... 1096 



Fig. 183. — Mastology of Canada Lynx 678 

Fig. 184. — Head of Canada Lynx in Summer. (Half life size) . . . 679 

Fig. 185. — Lynx Tails. (Half life size) 679 

Fig. 186.— Feet of Canada Lynx. (Half life size) 680 

Fig. 187. — Right hind and right front tracks of a domestic cat (natural size) 

for comparison with those of Lynx 687 

Fig. 188. — Study of Kit-fox in Philadelphia Zoo, August, 1886 . . .702 

Fig. 189. — Life study of the Algerian Kit-fox 704 

Fig. 190. — Impressions of a Fox's feet. (From life) 711 

Fig. 191. — Feet of Fox (K. macwurus) 712 

Fig. 192. — Side view or elevation, and plan of the Fox-den opened by Geo. 

L. Fordyce .......... 716 

Fig. 193. — Diagram of Fox-tracks (by G. L. Fordyce), showing approxi- 
mately the tracks left by the mother Fox in moving her brood 
from the hollow tree to the new den . . . . .719 

Fig. 194. — Fox-tracks in snow 728 

Fig. 195. — The Fox playing at ' boulder ' 730 

Fig. 196. — Life study of the Fox that attacked the Porcupine, Colorado . 735 

Fig. 197. — A model Fox-yard. Scale 50 feet to one inch .... 742 

Fig. 198. — Distant views and characteristic outlines of Gray-wolf, Coyote, 

Fox 750 

Fig. 199. — Tracks of large Gray-wolf. (Life size) ..... 777 

Fig. 200. — Diagram of the Coyote Den opened by A. S. Barton, at Boisse- 

vain, Man. .......... 796 

Fig. 201. — Tracks of Coyote. (Life size) 799 

Fig. 202. — Otter poses. (From life) ........ 828 

Fig. 203. — Otter tracks; from caged specimen in Washington Zoo . . 833 

viii Full-Page and Other Illustrations 

Fig. 204. — Head of Short-tailed Weasel 844 

Fig. 205. — Skulls of Short-tailed Weasel 846 

Fig. 206. — Skull of Short-tailed Weasel adult, from Elk River, Minn. . . 846 

Fig. 207. — Skull of P. rixosus, the type 859 

Fig. 208. — Skulls of Long-tailed Weasel ....... 867 

Fig. 209. — Right paws of young Mink. (Life size) ..... 873 

Fig. 210. — Young Mink. (Life size) ..... . 874 

Fig. 211. — Mink about one-fifth of life size 878 

Fig. 212. — Mink tracks 887 

Fig. 213. — ^Mink poses. (From life.) 889 

Fig. 214. — A Model Minkery 898 

Fig. 215. — Right feet of Rocky Mountain Marten (M. c. origenes) . . 903 

Fig. 216. — Marten ........... 909 

Fig. 217. — British Martens rubbing their musk on projections in the cage. 

(From life) 911 

Fig. 218. — Attitudes of Martens 915 

Fig. 219. — Marten tracks .......... 917 

Fig. 220. — Section of deadfall, showing trigger set . . . . .921 

Fig. 221. — Front view of deadfall set for Marten ..... 921 

Fig. 222. — Life studies of Fisher ......... 933 

Fig. 223. — Tracks of a large Fisher 937 

Fig. 224. — Right-side tracks of Wolverine ....... 963 

Fig. 225. — The right front and right hind paws of Hudsonian Skunk . . 967 

Fig. 226. — Head of Hudsonian Skunk, from Iowa. (Life size) . . . 969 

Fig. 227. — Young of M. pulida just before birth. (Life size.) Weight 15 

grammes ........... 974 

Fig. 228. — Mastology of Skunk 975 

Fig. 229. — Anal scent-gland of M. pulida dissected and raised to expose the 

rectum (R). (Life size, but a very small example) . . . 977 

Fig. 230. — Tracks of Skunk ......... 987 

Fig. 231. — Right fore and hind feet of Badger ...... 999 

Fig. 232. — Badger hole, 6 feet deep 1003 

Fig. 233. — Mastology of the Raccoon ion 

Full-Page and Other Illustrations ix 


Fig. 234. — Paws of Raccoon, left hind and left fore. (Life size) . . 1014 

Fig. 235. — Tracks of Raccoon 1027 

Fig. 236. — Life studies of Grizzly paws ....... 1031 

Fig. 237. — Life studies of various Grizzlies ....... X033 

Fig. 238. — Life studies of Grizzly ........ 1036 

Fig. 239. — Grizzly poses. (From life) ....... 1039 

Fig. 240. — Montana Grizzly. New-born. (Life size) ..... 1043 

Fig. 241. — -Young Grizzlies, 3 months old; born in Golden Gate Park, San 

Francisco. The offspring of Monarch ..... 1045 

Fig. 242. — Paws of a large Blackbear ; right hind and right fore. (Summer) 1053 

Fig. 243. — Quaking aspen, with Bear claw-scars grown out into bumps 1} 

inches long .......... 1063 

Fig. 244. — Mastology of Blackbear 1067 

Fig. 245. — Bear poses. (From Hfe) 1076 

Fig. 246. — Print of Blackbear's left front paw, made by driving the Bear 

over fresh black paint then across strong paper . . . 1079 

Fig. 247. — Bear-tracks ........... 1085 

Fig. 248. — Head of S. personalus, to illustrate the mask .... 1091 

Fig. 249. — Skull of Meadow-mouse (A/, pennsylvanicus) . (Five times natural 

size) ............ 1092 

Fig. 250. — Skull of Cooper Shrew (5. personalus). (Eight times natural size) . 1092 

Fig. 251. — Teeth of the Longtailed Shrews found in Manitoba. (Magnified 

about 10 diameters) ........ 1093 

Fig. 252. — Skull of Richardson Shrew (Sorex richer Jsoni) . (Double natural 

size) ........... 1 108 

Fig. 253. — Skull of Blarina hreoicauda. (Double natural size) . . .1117 

Fig. 254. — The furrowed trail of the Shrew-mole or Blarina . . .1120 

Fig. 255. — Portion of Blarina labyrinth on snow 1121 

Fig. 256. — Blarina labyrinth on snow. March 6, 1907. Cos Cob, Conn. . 1121 

Fig. 257. — Tunnels of a pair of Blarinas. October 6, 1908. Cos Cob, Conn. 11 23 

Fig. 258. — Diagram of a typical burrow of Blarina brevicauda . . . .1125 

Fig. 259. — Blarina, Cos Cob, July 22, 1904 ...... 1127 

Fig. 260. — Excrement of the Blarina brevicauda. (Life size; after ShuU) . 11 28 

Fig. 261. — Skull of Star-nosed Mole (Condylura crislala). (1^2 times natural size) 1137 

Fig. 262. — Nasal Disk and Snout of Condylura crislala ..... 1141 

X Full-Page and Other Illustrations 


Fig. 263. — Scatology of Star-nosed Mole ....... 1143 

Fig. 264. — The Bats found in Manitoba. (All life size) .... 1148 

Fig. 265.^-SkuIl of Silvery-bat. (Twice life size) 1167 

Fig. 267.^Left side teeth of Hoary-bat; two views of each row . . 1192 


Map 39.- 
Map 40.- 
Map 41.- 
Map 42.- 
Map 43.- 
Map 44.- 
Map 45.- 

Map 46.- 
Map 47. 
Map 48.- 
Map 49. 
Map 50. 
Map 51.- 
Map 52.- 
Map 53.- 

MAP 54.- 

Map 55. 
Map 56.- 
MAP 57.- 
Map 58.- 
Map 59. 
Map 60.- 
Map 61.- 
MAP 62.- 
Map 63. 

-Range of the Canada Lynx and its Three Races 
-Range of the North American kit-foxes 
-Range of the North American Red-foxes . 


-Range of the coyotes 

-Range of the North American Otters . 

-Range of the Weasels Found in Canada, Exclusive of the 
Long-tailed and Least Weasel Groups 

-Range of the least Weasel 

-Range of the long-tailed weasel and Its Near kin 
-The Range of the North American Minks . 
-Range of the American Martens .... 
-Range of the Fisher and its Two Races 
-Range of the wolverine and its Three Races . 
-Range of the Large skunks of the genus mephitis 
-Range of the American Badger and its four Races 
-Range of the Raccoons Found in North America 
-Primitive Range of the North American Bears . 
-Range of the American Blackbears and Their near kin 
-Range of the common Shrew and its Four Races 
-Range of the Black-backed Shrew .... 
-Range of Hoy Shrew and its Three Races 
-Range of the Water-shrew and its four races 
-Range of the Short-tailed Shrew and its Six Races 

-Range of the Star-nosed Mole 

-Range of the little Brown-bat and Its Three Races 


68 1 














1 107 





Map 64.— range of the say Bat .... 
MAP 65. — Range of the Silver-haired Bat . 
MAP 66.— Range of the Big Brown-bat 
MAP 67. — Range of the red-bat and Its Five Races 
Map 68. — Range of the hoary-bat 

I 164 

1 168 

1 179 

1 185 

1 193 




Lynx, Canada Lynx, Bobcat, Gray Wild-cat, Lucivee 
or Loup-cervier. 

Lynx canadensis Kerr. 
(L. Lynx, the ancient name of its European kinsman; canadensis, of Canada.) 

Lynx canadensis Kerr, 1792, An. King., I, pp. 32a, 157. 
Type Locality. — Eastern Canada. 

French Canadian, le Loup-cervier, le Pichu, le 

Lynx ou le Chat. 
OjiB., Cree, & Saut., Pee-shoo'. 
Chipewyan, Chee'-say. 
Yankton Sioux, Ee-hee'-mo. 
Ogallala Sioux, I g-mu-ho'-ta. 

By an unfortunate error the Canada Lynx is sometimes 
called 'Wolverine' in Quebec and in the Adirondacks. 

The Cat Family or FelidcB comprises digitigrade carnivores 
of medium or large size; they have 5 toes in front, 4 behind; 
tail, various; head, short and round; claws, sharp, curved, and 
retractile; teeth, 28 or 30. 

The genus Lynx (Kerr, 1792) comprises large Cats, with 
very short tails (/'. e., less than one-half the length of the body), 
very long legs, large feet, usually with tufted ears, and with the 
following dentition: 

T i'i i-i 2-2 , i-i 

Inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. =20 

i-Z i-i 2-2 i-i 

In youth there are 2 additional premolars above. 

To these generic characters the Canada Lynx adds the size 
following: Length, about 36 inches (915 mm.); tail, 4 inches 
(102 mm.); hind-foot, 9I inches (242 mm.). 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

An extremely lean male from Halifax, Nova Scotia, 
weighed i6 pounds;' another from Petersburg Mountains, east 
of Troy, was 22 pounds.- The full-grown but lean female 
whose feet appear in Fig. 186, weighed 13 pounds. A young 
female, taken on Great Slave River, I weighed at 15 pounds. A 
small but adult female which I examined at Calgary, Alberta, 
weighed 19 pounds 11 ounces. S. N. Rhoads accepts' and 
records the following weights for Canada Lynx in Pennsyl- 

Fic. 183 — Mastology of Canada Lynx?. 
Taken Athabaska River, May 19, 1907. 

vania: "about 40 pounds, as high as 44 pounds," but these 
are exceptionally heavy. 

In summer: Grayish-brown, much darker on the head 
and back (where the long hairs are black with occasional 
white tips), and shaded into dull whitish below; the ears be- 
hind are black, with a central spot of whitish; a spot at the 
corner of the mouth, the bars on the ruff, and the whole end 
of the toil black; a few dusky spots show on the inside of 
each limb. 

In winter: The colour is much paler and grayer; at all 
times the tuft of hairs on the ears is long and black. 

When seen alive it looks and behaves exactly like a huge 
gray cat. Its tufted ears and short bobtail will distinguish it 
from its near relatives. It might be mistaken for the American 

■ Aud. & Bach., Quad. N. \., 1849, Vol. I, p. ij 

' Ihid. 

^ Mam. Pcnn., 1903, pp. 137-8. 


Canada Lynx 


Wild-cat or Bay-lynx (Lynx ruff us), but its tail is very dif- 
ferent and furnishes a sure guide; while the Lynx has the tip 
of the tail wholly black above and below and the rest of it 
grayish-white, the Bay-lynx has the tip black above and white 
below, and also has other broken bars on the upper part 

Fig. iSs— Lymi Tails. (Half life size.) 

^^ I. Canada Lynx, 

vV, 2. Bay.lynx. 

V.^ (Both from Muskoka, Ont.) 


Fig. 184 — Head of Canada Lynx 9 m summer. (Half life size.) 

Nothwithstanding the fact that the Bay-lynx is said by 
Herrick' to be the prevailing species in Minnesota, I have 
failed to determine its occurrence in Manitoba. 

Three races of Canada Lynx are recognized: 

canadensis Kerr, the typical form. 
mollipilosus Stone, a browner race. 
suhsolanus Bangs, a darker race. 

' Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 73. 

680 Life-histories of Northern Animals 


RANGE This species ranges over the whole of Manitoba wherever 

there is cover. In autumn it is often found three or four miles 
out on the prairies. Premier Roblin has supplied me with the 
record of a Lynx killed on his farm near Carman, among some 
willows, 3 miles from timber and lo from woodland of any 
extent. In the end of October, 1883, I met with a Lynx on 
the open prairie 20 miles west of Shellmouth. In the fall of 
1905, E. W. Darbey says 2 Lynxes were killed within the limits 
of the city of Winnipeg. But its usual haunts are the woods, 
the thicker the better. 

HOME- The Lynx is generally believed to be a wide ranger. 

While the young are unable to travel it would be impossible 
for the mother to go more than four or five miles from home, 
but, in the autumn and winter, there is reason for believing 
they will go fully ten times as far. I remember meeting with a 
Lynx near Toronto in December, 1875, although it was com- 
monly believed that they were no longer found within 30 or 
40 miles of that city. 

ABUN- I met with but three or four Lynxes during as many years 

in Manitoba, so that in the poplar region about Carberry 
and westward they cannot be called abundant. In the sandhill 
tract between Carberry and the river, about 20 miles by 15, I 
doubt if there are ordinarily a dozen Lynxes resident. In the 
thickly wooded regions northward, they are said to be much 
more plentiful, and in the Peace River country, during the great 
Rabbit year of 1904, the Lynxes so abounded that nearly 
every hunter and trapper in the country got from 20 to 50 that 


sociA- So far as known, the only approaches to sociability in this 

animal are the bands of four or five that are seen together in 
autumn and winter, and it is the opinion of most hunters that 

Lynx canadensis Kerr. 

Founded chiefly on records bv J. Richardson, E. \V. Nelson, O. Bangs, C. Hart Mtrriam, J. Fannin, W. H., R. Bell, A, P. Low, 
R MacFarlane, W. Stone, S, N. Rhoads, E. A. Preble, and E. T, Scton. 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

these are the family of the year, still with the mother and 
occasionally accompanied also by the father. George Link- 
later assures me that he has often seen in the snow signs of 
Lynxes gathered together to chase each other and play, at a 
time when sex instincts were out of the question. But what 
the nature of the game was I have failed to learn. E. W. 
Nelson says:'^ "The fur-traders and Indians of the Upper 
Yukon claim that the Lynxes sometimes unite in parties of 
5 or 6 and make Rabbit drives on the small islands in the 
Yukon. They claim to have heard the Lynxes utter a sharp 
whistling noise, and to have found their tracks in the snow 
where the line had swept the island, until each secured its prey, 
near the farther end." 


The stripes on the face, the black ear-tufts, the whiskers, 
and the little nervous twitching black-tipped tail, are no doubt 
important direction marks to help the Lynx's own kind in 
recognizing it, but its voice is its chief means of communicating 
with its distant fellows. I never heard a Lynx purr, but all 
other sounds that a house-cat has, the Lynx has, and uses 
them in much the same way. I know nothing of the 'whistling' 
mentioned by Nelson in a previous paragraph. It has, how- 
ever, another vocal effort which is even better developed than 
in the cat, and that is a yowling song. This begins with a 
long low ' me-ow,' followed by others in quick succession, with 
rising pitch and volume, till after three or four minutes continu- 
ous performance the final ' me-ows' are terrific screeches. I 
have heard this in August, October, and December, and do not 
know what it means, or which sex utters it. But the trappers 
tell me that the somewhat similar and frightful caterwauling of 
the males is mostly heard early in March and has a direct 
relation to the mating. 

MATING The species is generally believed to pair, but I have no 

evidence beyond the opinion of hunters. 

The mating season is any time during the first half of 

' Nat. Hist. Alaska, 1887, p. 235. 

Canada Lynx 683 

March. My Ottawa guide, Ned Crete, of Deux Rivieres, 
tells me that, in 1904, he saw 7 Lynxes together on March 15 
or 20. It was the regular running season, and the year before 
a similar group was seen at the same place. 

There were 2 small and 5 big ones. They were cater- 
wauling like cats; it was this noise that called his attention to 
them. Two were fighting exactly like tom-cats; the one down 
on his back had the better of it, being able to scratch with 
four feet instead of only two. 

The hunters generally believe that the Lynx is monog- 
amous, and Miles Spencer gives" it as the opinion of the 
Indians that the Lynx assists the female in rearing the young. 
Linklater takes the same view and maintains that though the 
male does not actually accompany the young, when they fol- 
low the mother, he is always found at no great distance, both 
in summer and in winter. This same trapper believes that 
Lynxes travel in families the year round, except in the spring. 

The period of gestation, according to MacFarlane,' is young 
about 3 months. This would bring the young into the world 
about the middle of June in Hudson Bay Territories, but 
in Pennsylvania, Rhoads says, they arrive in May.' The 
mother prepares a comfortable nest for them in some hole 
or hollow log. Whether the father assists in this, I cannot 
learn. The young are, according to all accounts, from i to 
3 or 4 in number, but Linklater tells me that he has found up 
to 6 in the female. This discrepancy I have come across many 
times, the average number of young in the brood being less 
than the number of embryos in the female. It may mean 
that some are still-born, a parallel case being the addled eggs in 
nests; or, if too many for their food supply, the weak ones die. 

When born they are much like the kittens of the house- 
cat. In 1886 I made the herewith drawing of one (Plate XLIX) 
to illustrate a paper by Dr. C. Hart Merriam. The specimen 

»Mam. H. Bay, Low's Rep. Geol. Surv. Can., 1888, App. Ill, p. 76 J. 
' Mam. N. W. Terr., Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. XXVIII, 1905, p. 692. 
*Mam. Penn., 1903, p. 140. 

684 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

was secured by Montague Chamberlain, of St. John, N. B. 
He says:" 

"It was dropped on the 20th of March, 1883, when the 
mother had been in captivity about a month. She gave birth 
to 5 kittens, but this was the only one rescued from her un- 
motherly jaws. When the first was born she at once prepared 
to clean it, and seemed fond of it. After a short time, however, 
it gave vent to a weak squeal, which caused her to eye it 
curiously for a moment, when another squeal was delivered. 
This settled the kitten's doom — it was devoured at once. 
The mother did not exhibit any tenderness towards the other 
4, and the keeper made two unsuccessful efforts before he was 
able to get one away from her. This kitten lived two days, 
and then died from injuries received in its removal from the 
cage. Its 'mew' was something like that of a domestic kitten, 
but stronger and harsher; it was almost fierce and very pene- 
trating. The general strength of the animal was greater than 
that of a domestic kitten. Two hours after birth it stood 
firmly on its feet and turned around in its box, but it did not 
show any inclination to fight when teased. The eyes were 
open at birth." 

Miles Spencer states'" that they are born with closed eyes. 

Dr. Merriam adds in his description of the specimen 

"It is but a trifle larger than the young of the domestic 
cat at birth, and may have been born a little prematurely, 
though the fact that its eyes were open argues against this 
supposition. I am unable to give many measurements of 
value, since I did not see the specimen till after it came from 
the taxidermist. 

^ Jji ^ ^ if' 'I* 'I' 

"The ground colour of the body is light fawn, paler below, 
and inclining to buff on the sides. It is much obscured above 
by the stripes and rows of concatenating brown blotches, and 
below by small dark stripes. * * * 

» Bull. Nat. Hist. Soc. New Brunswick, 1886, No. V, pp. 10-13. 
'" Loc. cil., note 6. 

7. E 

Canada Lynx 685 

"It is hardly necessary to call attention to the fact that this 
specimen is one of unusual interest, since its very decided 
markings, of which scarcely a trace remains in the adult 
animal, cast some light upon the genetic affinities of the genus 
to which it pertains. A critical study of these markings leads 
to the interesting conclusion that the genus Lynx was derived 
from the group of Cats of which the Ocelot (Felis pardalis) 
is the nearest living representative." 

After the young Lynxes have been suckled for two or three 
months the family — mother, kits, and probably father — set out 
on their travels. At this time the young are weaned and have 
for a month or more been eating solid food, but now they 
begin to learn hunting for themselves. The instinctive habit 
of the race, stimulated by hunger and the mother's example, 
is doubtless the prime motive power. 

Although usually a shy creature, avoiding a meeting with family 
man, the Lynx mother is very ready to fight for her family. 

On one occasion, while out on a camera hunt in Colorado, 
I heard a buck stamping in a little dale and, slipping off 
my horse, camera in hand, sneaked after the Deer. I found 
nothing but his tracks, and was peering across an open place, 
when I caught sight of a large animal close to me on the 
right. On passing into the clear space it turned to look at me. 
It was a Lynx, but it seemed very small, and its expression was 
one of innocent curiosity, entirely without menace. It paused 
at 30 feet. I hastened to adjust the camera, and as I did so a 
deep rumbling growl and a movement in a thicket close at 
hand made me jump. I turned around, to see within 15 feet 
a Lynx three times as big as the first, and eyeing me savagely 
from behind some willows. My first thought was to wish for 
a gun, for I realized that the Lynx in the open was only a kitten; 
now I had to meet the mother. My second thought was that 
the old one would do me no harm if I faced her, and did not 
molest the kitten. So I tried to get her photograph, but she 
disappeared, and when I looked around the little one also was 


'Jt ' 








^J4Mi. s /■ 



'm^'^''^m\r . ^ ^h 



t^ ^^ 

^/%' "..' 

Fig. 186— Feet of Canada Lj-nx. (Half life size.) 
Uppermost figure, right hind-loot of large male in winter. 
Middle, right hind-foot of female in s 
Lowest, right front-paw of sami 

Canada Lynx 


gone. On this occasion I saw nothing of a second old one, 
or indeed of any other young ones, for that matter ; but they 
may have been there, as the undergrowth was very thick. 
The date was September 8. 

The family continues together all autumn. As proof of 
this, Linklater tells me that in October, 1904, he saw 4 Lynxes 
together hunting at Desbarats; probably they were mother and 
kits. In 1894, at Green Lake, Ont., he saw 5 together about 
Christmas; all seemed fully grown. Charles G. D. Roberts 
informs me that in New Brunswick a band of 5 or 6 Lynxes 

Fig. 187 — Right hind and right front tracks of a domestic cat (natural size) 
for comparison with those of Lynx. 

are sometimes seen in company. All these cases are, I believe, 
incidents of family life, and the Rabbit drives Nelson tells us 
of have a similar explanation. 

The group may continue together until March comes, 
bringing with it that great disintegrator of the family band — 
the mating craze — which prompts the brother and sister to 
shun each other, and seek each one a helpmate for himself. 

In hunting the Lynx a single small dog is enough to make pursuit 
it take to a tree, but it is very apt to regain courage, come down 
and kill the dog, unless the hunter be close at hand to succour 
and support his noisy colleague. 

Although a desperate fighter when cornered, this animal 
is easily killed. If it is taken in a snare, the trapper usually 
picks up a stout stick and dispatches the victim with a blow on 
the snout or back. 

In following it in winter I have often been impressed by 

688 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the admirable adaptation of its feet as snow-shoes. Ahhough 
its weight be 30 or 40 pounds, its feet are so large and so 
spread with stiff hairs that it walks lightly on soft drifts 
where a dog would flounder in utter helplessness. As it 
rambles through the woods it usually walks every log it comes 
to. Sometimes, in the midst of a slow walk, it will spring for- 
ward 12 or 15 feet, apparently without any object other than 
a wish to see how far it can jump. 

RUNNING Although a creature of superb activity among matted 

branches and labyrinthine logs or underbrush, the Lynx is 
surprisingly slow on the level ground. 

The cowboys of New Mexico on their ponies could catch 
a Bay-lynx in the open within half a mile, even though it had 
a quarter-mile start. Not only will any common cur dog 
overtake a Canada Lynx within a few hundred yards, but even 
a man who is speedy can run it down in open country, as 
attested by Alexander Henry. In speaking of Le Boeuf, a 
famous Indian hunter and runner on the Red River, he says:" 

"He came in to-day with a Loup-cervier that he had 
caught in the plains in a fair chase and killed with his small 
axe; he certainly is an extraordinary runner. He is a tall man, 
spare and lean, of a mild disposition, but wicked when provoked 
to anger." 

During my journey to the Far North in 1907, I often 
heard of such exploits on the part of hunters, and at length, on 
Great Slave Lake, was eye-witness of this very achievement. 

SWIM- On the other hand, the Lynx seems very much at home 

in the water. The garrulous and ever-entertaining Henry 
says, in his Red River Journal, April 22, 1804:'- "Caught 15 
sturgeons and a Loup-cervier; how the latter came into the 
sturgeon net I cannot say. We saw his track on the beach 
until he came opposite the net, which completely crossed the 
river; he appeared to have then taken to the water, for what 

" Red River, November 2, 1802, Journal A. Henrj', 1897, p. 206. 
"■ P. 242. 

Canada Lynx 689 

reason I cannot tell. However, he was found drowned, en- 
tangled in the net about lo feet from shore." 

Richardson, in his Overland Journey, 1848, relates'' that 
on June 26, at Buffalo Lake, "a Canada Lynx was seen 
swimming across a strait, where the distance from shore to 
shore exceeded a mile. We gave chase and killed it easily. 
This animal is often seen in the water," and elsewhere'^ he 
remarks, "it swims well and will cross the arm of a lake two 
miles wide." I have several times known Lynxes to take to 
the water without being in any sense driven, and was sur- 
prised to find this member of the cat tribe as good a swimmer as 
a dog and far better than a Fox. 

It is noteworthy that most of our carnivora live chiefly food 
on prey smaller than themselves. The Fox preys on Mice, 
the Marten on Squirrels, the Badger on Gophers, the Lynx 
finds its chief support in the White-rabbit. A good Rabbit 
year is sure to be a good Lynx year, and the disappearance of 
the Rabbits is followed by a general disappearance of the 

In addition to Rabbits, the Lynx preys on various kinds 
of grouse — is, in fact, the chief enemy of the Canadian grouse 
or spruce partridge. 

It is a curious fact, as I have often witnessed, that the 
spruce partridge will allow a man to walk within ten feet and 
noose a member out of a covey, but the moment a dog or 
anything suggesting a Lynx appears in the distance the whole 
family take flight in alarm. This may be accepted as evidence 
that the Lynx, and perhaps the Fox, have for long been the 
only important enemies of this grouse. 

The food of this animal is thus detailed by Audubon 
and Bachman:'^ 

"The food of the Canada Lynx consists of several species 
of grouse and other birds, the Northern Hare, Gray-rabbit, 

" Arctic Search Exp., 185 1, Vol. I, p. 106. 
" F. B. A., 1829, Vol. I, p. loi. 
" Q. N. A,, 1849, Vol. I, p. 141. 

690 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Chipping-squirrel, and other quadrupeds. It has been men- 
tioned to us that in the territories to the north of the Gulf of 
St. Lawrence they destroy the Arctic Fox, and make great havoc 
among the Lemmings (Georychus). Hearne informs us (p. 366) 
that in Hudson Bay they 'seldom leave a place which is 
frequented by Rabbits, till they have killed nearly all of them.' 
They are said to pounce on the wild goose at its breeding 
places, and to destroy many Marmots and Spermophiles by 
lying in wait for them at their burrows." 

We shall probably find in its food list every living creature 
that it can overcome, which means all smaller than itself, 
not excluding snakes, frogs, and insects. There are probably but 
two lesser fellow woodsmen that the Lynx lets alone; these 
are the Skunk and the Porcupine. Starvation, however, may 
overcome its fear of these, as is shown by Audubon and Bach- 
man:'" "At a public house in Canada, we were shown the 
skin of one of these Lynxes, the animal having been found 
quite helpless and nearly dead in the woods. It appears that, 
leaping onto a Porcupine, it had caught a Tartar, as its head 
was greatly inflamed and it was nearly blind. Its mouth was 
full of the sharp quills of that well-defended animal, which 
would in a day or two have occasioned its death." 

FOX- Most persons are surprised to learn that in the thickly 


wooded country the Lynx is a deadly enemy of the Fox. 

One of my guides in the Kippewa region of Quebec 
(Archie Miller) tells me that in January, 1904, as he crossed 
Askoe Lake near Kippewa, he saw a Lynx and a Fox about 80 
yards ofT, fighting on the snow. He watched them for about 
15 minutes. The Fox was trying to get away, but the deep, 
soft snow was against it, and finally it was overtaken and killed 
by the Lynx. When Miller came up the victor ran ofi^ into 
the woods. In the fight an acre of snow was trampled all over; 
they must have been at it for an hour. The tracks showed 
that they began the battle in a woods near by, where there were 
many Rabbits. The Fox's neck was torn open and its heart 

•» Ibid. 

Canada Lynx 691 

pierced in two places, apparently by the claws of its adversary. 
It was a prime Cross-fox, and brought five dollars. 

Similarly, Linklater tells me that once when carrying 
the mails down from Montreal River, Ont., in January, 
1880, he had halted for noon at the edge of a small lake and 
saw on the ice, a mile or more away, two animals fighting, one 
either a Fox or a Fisher, the other a Lynx. 

After eating his dinner and resting an hour, he travelled 
on to the place and found the combatants to be a Cross-fox 
and a Lynx. They had had a long and desperate encounter, 
but the Fox, as usual, had succumbed to his foe's superior 
powers, and had been torn into pieces. The head and tail 
were lying on the ice, but the body had been carried off and 
buried under snow in the distant woods, where the traveller 
found it. The tracks showed that the Lynx had attacked the 
Fox in the woods and chased it round and round on the Rabbit 
trails for perhaps an hour before driving it onto the ice, where 
the killing took place. There were plenty of Rabbits, so 
that hunger was not the excuse. The Fox was at a disad- 
vantage, as the snow was three feet deep and very soft. The 
Lynx went over the surface on his snow-shoes, the Fox ploughed 
in deep, and the harder he leaped the deeper he sank. 

Both these trappers say they have often heard of Foxes 
killed by Lynxes and by Fishers. 

As soon as these two are trapped out. Foxes increase, 
but are everywhere scarce in the thick woods. 

J. K. McDonald writes me: "I have known of bodies of 
even full-grown Foxes being found dead, but uneaten, such 
having been killed by the Lynx." 

The latter, however, is not always master of the situation, 
as proven by the following incident in Nelson's "Alaska":" 

"Mr. McQuesten, a fur-trader living at Fort Yukon, wit- 
nessed one winter day a combat between a Lynx and a Red- 
fox, which he described to me as follows: 'The Lynx 
sprang upon the Fox, in comparatively open ground, evidently 
trying to capture it for food. The Fox instantly made fight, 

" Nat. Hist. Alaska, 1887, p. 235. 

692 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and for a few moments the fur flew right and left. Then a 
short pause followed and the fight was renewed. A second 
pause ensued, and after the two had glared at one another for 
a few moments they slowly withdrew in opposite directions, 
the hair on each bristling defiance, but each apparently satisfied 
to close accounts.' This Lynx was probably weakened by 
hunger, for a vigorous Lynx is certainly more than a match 
for a Fox." 

In this case, I suspect further, that there was very little 
snow. The Lynx, mounted on his wonderful snow-shoes, has 
a sovereign advantage when the snow is deep enough to 
embarrass a Fox. In fact, the Lynx plays crust-hunter, while 
the Fox flounders helplessly in treacherous drifts. 

In my early days about Lindsay, Ont., I several times 
heard of farmers losing Iambs or even small pigs through 
the attacks of Lynxes; and fawns were believed to be com- 
monly their prey. But the hunters were divided as to whether 
a Lynx would attack any creature so large as a full-grown 

DEER- One of our best naturalists writes:'* "We have heard one 

or two accounts of the Canada Lynx having killed a Deer; 
we are somewhat sceptical in regard to this being a general 
habit of the species, although when pressed by hunger, which 
renders all creatures desperate at times, it may occasionally 
venture to attack a large animal." 

Linklater claims that he has conclusive evidence in point. 
At Green Lake, Algoma (H. B. Post), he once found the 
remains of a Deer on the ice with no tracks but those of one 
Lynx about it. The Deer was a two-year-old. He is satisfied 
that it was killed by the Lynx. 

In September, 1901, while camped in the Colorado 
Mountains, where the Deer and Lynxes both were abundant, 
my guide, Charles Erickson, told me of another case. About 
five years before, A. E. Muckey was hunting a band of Black- 
tails in the snow among the cedar brakes, between the mouth 

" Bachman, Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 141. 

Canada Lynx 693 

of Deep Creek and the Sweetwater, along the Grand River, 
when the trails of two Bobcats joined on to those of the 
Deer. A Deer track left the band and one of the Bobcats' 
tracks disappeared at that place. Muckey turned aside to 
follow that one Deer. After a short time he came on its 
carcass with both Bobcats in possession, but they ran way 
at his approach. He put some poison on the kill, and re- 
turned next morning to find both Bobcats dead at their feast. 

S. N. Rhoads, after stating'" "There is nothing in the 
habits of the Lynx differing from those of a Wild-cat, except 
what it accomplishes on account of its greater size and agility," 
adds: "They will not hesitate to fasten themselves on the 
necks of Deer, trusting to bring them down by sheer exhaustion 
and blood-letting before the Deer can manage to drag them 
off by running through brush or branches of thick trees, or 
by jumping into water. Mr. Seth Nelson on one occasion 
was trout fishing at a large pool in the woods of Clinton County, 
when a crashing through the forest made him seize his rifle in 
time to shoot both a Wild-cat and a doe, which plunged into 
the pool to free itself of its tormentor. They have been known 
to seriously wound hunters in their own defence, and even to 
make an unprovoked attack." 

Hearne states"" that he once saw a Lynx take possession 
of a Caribou that an Indian had just slain and "suff^ered 
itself to be killed before it would relinquish the prize." 

In New Brunswick, according to Charles G. D. Roberts, 
a band of Lynxes do not hesitate to attack even a Caribou; 
and Linklater relates a similar case that he heard of from an 
Indian whom he considered quite reliable. It was at a place 
35 miles north of Sudbury, Ont. The hunter found the 
place with all the marks in tree and in snow, showing that the 
Lynx had been in a tree by the runway and had dropped on 
a passing Caribou, but the Caribou, by dashing into the 
thickets, had managed to get rid of its enemy. 

From these records we may believe that the Lynx will, 
if hard pressed, attack Deer and even Caribou, but these 

"Mam. Penn., 1903, p. 140. ^"Journal, 1795, p. 372. 

694 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

are not its usual prey, nor does it care to assail them except 
when able to do so in force. 

NEVER So far I have not met with an authentic case of the Lynx 

MAN voluntarily attacking man. It may sneak along the hunter's 
trail after dark, and close behind him, but it seems to be 
actuated by curiosity more than anything else, and having 
come close enough to inspect or wind him, is most likely to glide 
away in search of its proper prey. 

I have several times been followed in this way, but usually 
did not know it till afterwards, when I happened to come 
back again to my old track in the snow. 

A hunter told me that he once secured a fine specimen 
through knowledge of this habit. 

Chancing on his own track again within a few min- 
utes, he saw the great pad-marks of a Lynx evidently trot- 
ting behind him. He crossed an open space into some 
brush and there sat down to watch. Within five minutes 
the Lynx came running the trail like a hound and, when 
within twenty yards, was easily bowled over with a charge of 
heavy shot. 

Several of my companions about Carberry have met with 
Lynxes among the Sandhills. In most cases the creature 
walked away, retiring with great dignity, or uttering a deep, 
defiant growl. 

The only account I find of a Lynx facing a man is by Pro- 
fessor H. Y. Hind, and, although he did not witness the afifair, 
he seems to believe it. In this case the Lynx did not attack 
voluntarily, but was at bay. The incident took place on an 
island opposite Mingan Post on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 
Peter Mackenzie, armed but with bow, arrows, knife, and 
snow-shoes, landed on the island in early spring while yet 
there was snow, and found the Lynx. After a long pursuit 
he struck it with two arrows. 

"At last he came within twenty yards; the Cat turned 
round, rose on his hind-legs, snarled, and began to paw the 
air. Mackenzie discharged another arrow, but at the same 

Canada Lynx 695 

moment his snow-shoes tripped him up, and he fell head- 
long with his face in the snow. The Cat instantly sprung 
upon him, tearing with one stroke the coat from his back. 
Mackenzie turned round at once, and caught the Cat by 
the throat with one hand, and with the other he drew his knife; 
but as he made a lunge they both rolled over together, and he 
received some very severe scratches. Still holding on firmly to 
the throat of the animal, he was not bitten, although he was 
in danger of having his bowels torn out by the hind-feet of the 
Cat, who was making a vigorous resistance. A second lunge 
with the knife was fatal; it passed through the animal's heart, 
but it left Mackenzie exhausted and bleeding on the snow. 
He soon recovered, and carried his booty in triumph to the 

Canadian hunters and trappers generally credit the Lynx storage 
with a well-developed storage habit. When it secures more 
food than it needs for the present, it carefully hides it in the 
earth or in the snow for less bounteous times. One case has 
already been cited. 

The Rabbit is the most diseased of our mammals, and the diseases 
Lynx feeding on the Rabbit should logically inherit the physi- 
cal troubles of its victim, but I have seen no proof that it does. 

As already noted, there is no evidence of epidemic among 
the wild Lynxes to account for their periodic disappearance. 

Those who have the opportunity of conducting post 
mortem examinations on the bodies of Lynxes can render 
good service by recording in full their condition, as it is probable 
that the Lynx may be temporary host of a parasite that finds 
its final and fatal development in the Rabbit. 

The specimen from which I made the drawing of feet 
(Fig. 1 86) died of sunstroke in the New York Zoological Park. 

Like all cats, the Lynx is scrupulously clean. Menagerie sanita- 
specimens usually set apart one corner of the cage for the 

"Labrador Peninsula, 1863, Vol. I, pp. 59-60. 

696 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

cesspool department, and wild Lynxes are said to bury their 
dung like cats, but of this I have no conclusive evidence. 

CURIOUS An interesting kind of commensalism has been noted in 


SHIPS the Lynx life. Linklater tells me that he has seen a horned 
owl and a Lynx together working a Rabbit woods, the owl 
hovering around the outskirts to pick up the Rabbits as the 
Lynx routed them out. Of course, in this case we must sup- 
pose that the owl was a parasite that the Lynx was helping 
unwittingly. But the same sort of thing is seen with various 
hawks; nor do they follow only the four-legged hunters, but 
will impudently try to utilize the terror spread by the gunner 
and sometimes, forgetting themselves, come within range, to be 
added to the common bag. 

USE TO This animal is very easily caught by any of the usual 

methods of fur-taking, therefore the simplest — the snare — is 
most in use. In trapping it the half-breeds often use a lure 
or charm made of beaver-musk, oil of rhodium, asafoetida, 
and filings from the corn on the inside of a horse's front-leg. 
How far the practice is founded on mere superstition I can- 
not say. 

This bait is set on a forked stick surrounded bya little fence 
with one opening. At the opening a noose of wire or cord is set 
1 8 inches from the ground and fast to a short, thick stick. A 
Lynx coming to sniff the lure is caught in the noose; it tightens 
as he retires. He tugs till he is strangled, or, climbing a tree 
to get rid of it, he is hanged through the crosspiece catching 
in the branches. 

The steel trap and deadfall also are used, and in regions 
where Lynxes are abundant some hunters keep dogs trained 
to tree and hold them till the gunner can approach and use 
his fire-arms. 

FLESH Its flesh is a regular article of diet in the North-west. On 

the occasion when I tried it I found it white and well-flavoured 
but was debarred — by prejudice, I suppose — from enjoying 

Canada Lynx 697 

my meal of cat, in spite of the Hibernian dictum that a Lynx 
is nothing but an animated Rabbit, anyway. 

That the Lynx population fluctuates greatly is well migra- 
known to all trappers and fur-traders — but does the species 
migrate? J. K. McDonald, after thirty-five years of service 
in the fur country as a Hudson Bay trader, writes me: 

"It is accepted as a matter beyond cavil by all Hudson 
Bay hunters, that the Hare, Lynx, and Marten do migrate, 
and the fluctuation in their numbers is not considered to be 
caused by epidemics — save in the case of the Hare. Were it 
so with the Lynx, for instance, their bodies would surely be 
found, yet I have not heard of such a thing. It is always the 
case that when Lynx and Marten are plentiful, so are the 
Hares, and I am inclined to think that the former is the cause, 
at least to a large extent; as they are known to destroy the 
smaller mammals that prey on the Hares. Thus an influx 
in Lynxes causes such a decrease in other fur-bearing animals 
that the fur-traders look upon it as a disaster. 

"These periodical waves of increase or decrease cover 
large tracts of country, and it might be found that where in one 
tract they were moving east, in another they were going west." 

George Linklater and Miles Spencer, northern hunters 
of life-long experience, reiterate the theory of migration. 

The former tells me that at Green Lake, Ont., Lynxes were 
so plentiful during the winters from 1888 to 1890 that he took 
in 300 pelts each season at the Hudson Bay post. They 
then nearly all disappeared, and for three winters he took in 
only 30 to 35 pelts a season. At the same time they appeared 
in great numbers at Lake Temagaming, 200 miles away, 
where they had been very scarce, and for some years several 
hundred pelts were brought in each winter, instead of 20 or 
30. At the time of this change he saw many Lynx tracks 
pointing eastward from Green Lake towards Temagaming, 
and one day followed a band of half a dozen for many miles. 
They were not hunting, but travelling, and so close together 
that he could not be sure if there were 5 or 6 of them. There 


698 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

was plenty of food at both places, and no disease among the 
Lynxes, so it was impossible to say why they went, only he 
was quite certain that they did go. 

A great deal of evidence of this sort could be presented. The 
trappers generally agree that the Lynx is migratory and that it 
follows the White-rabbit. The Rabbit, however, does not mi- 
grate, so we may understand this to mean that the Lynxes seek 
out the regions where the White-rabbit abounds. But an unex- 
pected difficulty arises. If the Lynx population merely shifted, 
the aggregate fur returns of the entire country would not 
change, for the trappers cover the whole region every year. 

FLucTu- After spending a life-time as fur-trader, Roderick Mac- 

Farlane discusses the question as follows:" "This is one of 
the principal periodic fur-bearing animals which regularly 
increase and decrease in numbers about every decade. The 
experience of observers, largely corroborated by the Company's 
London sales, is pretty much as follows: The catch of Lynxes 
for each (say) three seasons, when they are least numerous, or 
rather comparatively scarce, fell sometimes as low as 4,000 or 
5,000 skins, as the entire output for the immense extent of 
territory covered by the Hudson's Bay Company's business 
operations. The fourth year would double these quantities, 
the fifth often more than doubled the fourth, the sixth doubled 
the fifth, while the seventh almost invariably witnessed the 
maximum trade of skins. The eighth would still be good, 
while the ninth and tenth would each exhibit a startling de- 
cline in the returns, which in quantity would closely corre- 
spond with the sixth and fifth years, respectively, in each 
decade. * * *" 

A clear idea of the wax and wane of the Lynx population 
is found in Alexander Henry's" Journal in the Upper Red River 
in the Years 1800 to 1808." The old fur-trader thus records'-^ 
the Lynx skins taken in the successive seasons at 20, 67, 194, 
167, 38, o, 4, and 4. 

" Mam. N. W. Tcr., I'rot. U. S. N. M., 1905, pp. 691-2. 
" Journal, 1897, pp. 184, 198, 221, 245, 259, 281, 422, 440. 

Canada Lynx 699 

These, then, are the conclusions presented: 

{a) The Lynx population rises and falls in cycles of about 
ten years, and when at its maximum may be as much as ten- 
fold the minimum. 

{h) There is no evidence that the decrease is due to epi- 
demic disease. 

{c) There is evidence of local migrations, but not of a 
kind to explain the great changes. 

{(1) After studying the problem on the ground, I feel no 
doubt that the decrease is due to starvation through failure of 
the Rabbits; and the story is grimly and silently told by 
frequent wasted bodies exposed in the woods when spring- 
time melts the snow, as I myself witnessed on the upper waters 
of the Mackenzie in the summer of 1907. 

The fur of the Lynx is a staple of North-western trade, fur 
The number annually exported by the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany has long oscillated between 4,000 and 75,000; 1896 was 
a high-water year, the export being 56,407; 1900 was the low 
ebb, the number having fallen to 4,473; since then the usual 
increase has continued, and 1905 must have been near high 
tide, for in the 1906 sales the Hudson's Bay Company had 
58,791 skins. At the previous sale Lampson's disposed of 
21,521 skins, or, in round numbers, 80,000 skins were taken 
in 1905. 

Poland's lists,'" however, show that the other American fur 
companies collect about 7,000 per annum, with little variation, 
and that, taking the whole continent, an average of about 
30,000 Lynx are killed each year for their fur. 

At the London annual fur sales held at C. M. Lampson's 
in March, 1906, 7,737 Lynx skins were sold. The highest 
prices realized were 60 shillings (^14.40) each for 4 superb 
'blue' skins; 30 shillings to 35 shillings (^7.20 to ^8.40) were 
more usual prices for first-class skins, from which they graded 
down to about 10 shillings ($2.40) for those of third-class. 

" Fur-bearing Animals, London, 1892. 


Kit-fox or Swift. 

Vulpes velox (Say). 
{L. Vulpes, see ante; velox, swift.) 

Cams velox Say, 1823, Long's Exped. Rky. Mts., I, p. 487. 
Vulpes velox AuD. & Bach., 1851, Quad. N. A., II, p. 13. 
Type Locality. — Vicinity of Cherry Creek, Laramie 
County, Wyo. 

French Canadian, le Re'tiard des prairies, ou vif. 
Yankton Sioux, Taghn-kay-ha. 
Ogallala Sioux, Mee-yah'-chah. 

The CanidcE or Dog Family comprises digitigrade car- 
nivores of large size; they have blunt, non-retractile claws; 
bushy tails; pointed muzzles; toes, 5 in front, 4 behind; teeth, 
42 or more. 

In addition to the characteristics of the genus Vulpes (see 
p. 706), the Kit-fox has: 

Length, 26 inches (660 mm.); tail, 9 inches (228 mm.); 
hind-foot, 4 inches (102 mm.). 

A full-grown specimen, from Medicine Hat, Sask., 
weighed 4I pounds. 

General colour, pale bufFy-yellow, becoming a deeper yel- 
lowish-brown on the back of the ears across the lower neck, on 
the outside of fore-legs and back of hind-legs; below, it is 
nearly white; on each side of the snout is a black spot; the 
back is covered with a beautiful silvery-gray mantle in which 
the gray-brown under-fur is peppered and frosted over with 
conspicuous white and inconspicuous black tips of the long 
hairs; this silver-tipping is continued onto the snout. The 
tail is warm yellowish-gray above; strong yellowish below; the 


By E. T. Seton. 

Kit-fox 701 

tail-tip is black. The tail-gland is marked by a black spot, as 
in the other species. There is no black on the ears. 

It may be distinguished from its nearest relative, the Big- 
eared Swift, by its yellower colour and shorter ears. 

Two races are recognized: 

velox Say, the typical form. 

hebes Merriam, larger, paler, and grayer. 


This diminutive Fox, no larger than a house cat, is a range 
characteristic native of the Saskatchewan or upper Campestrian 

In Manitoba it was formerly found in the Pembina Hills 
and westward to the Souris. Alexander Henry, trading on the 
Red River in 1800-8, had one or two Kits brought to him 
from Pembina Hills, or, as he calls them. Hair Hills, nearly 
every season; one year, 1804-5, he had 57; of these, 26 were 
from Pembina Hills and 31 from Salt River.' In 1873, Dr. E. 
Coues found^ Kit-foxes common along the Souris River at the 
Boundary Trail. 

These are all the Manitoba records I can find, and since 
then the species seems to have disappeared from the Province, 
though it still abounds along the Saskatchewan and westward 
to the mountains. 

It is strictly a prairie animal, harbouring in burrows and envi- 

. . RON- 

never venturing far from them, so that it is the most subter- ment 
ranean of our Foxes. 

Nothing is known of its mating, beyond the fact that the mating 
creature pairs, and that the pair continue together all summer, 
probably for life, as the male is active in the care of the young. 

' Journal 1897, p. 259. 

' United SUtes GeoL Surv., 1878, Vol. IV, Bull. 3, Art. XXV, p. 547- 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

One of my guides, Lee Hampleman, of Meeker, Colo., 
tells me that in 1897, when on Pawnee Creek, Colo., he 
found a Swift's den. It was reached by a tunnel about 9 feet 
long and was 5 feet from the surface. The chamber was 
nicely lined with grass and contained 5 young ones. 'Just 
the cutest, prettiest things he ever saw.' 

-Study iif Kit-fox in Philadelphia Z<io, August, 

These were taken home to the ranch and easily raised, but 
they never became tame. Both parents were seen about the 

Prof. John Macoun relates that in Alberta, June 16, 1895, 
he saw 2 old Kits and 5 young sitting on a prairie knoll. His 
dog rushed at them; the young dived into a hole, and the 
parents busied themselves leading the dog elsewhere. 

An interesting account of a pair of Kits that lived near his 
ranch house, has been given me by R. W. Cowan, of Cochrane, 
Alta. They were such beautiful and playful creatures that he 
rather encouraged them until they began to kill chickens, 
whereupon they fell from favour, and paid the extreme penalty. 
The family consisted of 2 old ones and 5 young. The latter 
began to run in the month of May. The old ones were seen 


This map is diagrammatic: the boundaries of the races are theoretical. It is founded chiefly on papers by C. H. Merriam and D. G. Elliot, 
with records by T. Say, V. Bailey, E. R. Warren, and E. T. Seton, and assistance from E. A. Meams. 
The following species are recognized : 

Vulpe, oehx ( Say \ VMp" nm(icujj*erriam. 

Vulpcs macrolis Merriam, 


Vuipa arsipus Elliot. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

together the year around, and during May the father certainly 
lived in the den with the family. 

These Alberta Kits were known to prey largely on Mice, 
and when there was snow on the ground they several times 
showed great cleverness in catching the prairie-chickens that 
slept in the soft drifts. 

At one time the Swift was believed to be the speediest 
four-foot on the Plains. This, however, proves to be an error. 

Fig. 189 — Life study of the Algerian Kit-foi, 




It is very swift, no doubt, but a small animal always appears to 
be going faster than it really is, and the rapidity with which it 
gets up speed and disappears into a hole, when startled, helps 
to give a wrong impression of its velocity. In the scale of speed 
I should place it a little higher than the Coyote. 

It is the least cunning of our Foxes, so unsuspicious that 
it readily takes the poisoned baits so much used nowadays 
for killing Coyotes; and in this we find the reason for its rapid 
disappearance before settlement. 

In captivity it is easily managed and breeds freely, yet 
continues shy. Audubon and Bachman' relate of a captive 
specimen: "He drank more water than Foxes generally do, 
seemed anxious to play or wash in the cup which held his sup- 

' Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 16. 

Kit-fox 705 

ply, and would frequently turn it over, spilling the water on the 
floor of his cage." 

One of the Indian names of the species is said to mean 
'lousy thing,' because it is pestered with lice. The fur is of 
little commercial value. At Lampson's sales in London, 1905, 
a total of 5,129 Kits were sold. 

In the March sale of 1906, the number fell to 1,404; 5 
shillings and 6 pence ($1.32) was the highest price paid, and i 
shilling and 3 pence (30 cents) the lowest. 


Royal Fox, Prairie Red-fox or Common Red-fox of 

Vulpes regalis Merriam. 
(L. Vulpes, a fox; regalis, royal, because of its superb appearance.) 

Vulpes regalis Merriam, 1900, Proc. Wash. Acad. Sci., Vol. II, 
pp. 672-3, December 28. 
Type Locality. — Elk River, Sherburne County, Minn. 

French Canadian, le Renard royal. 
Cree, Wah-kus'. 
OjiB. & Saut., Wah-gush' . 
Chipewyan, Nak-ee'-they. 
Ogallala Sioux, S hung-ka-ge' -lah . 
Yankton Sioux, Song-kee-na. 

The genus Vulpes (Brisson, 1762) comprises dog-like 
animals of small size, with long bushy tails (more than half the 
length of the body); long soft fur, long sharp muzzle, large 
ears; long, sharp semi-retractile claws; linear eye-pupils; 
and teeth as follows: 

T 3-3 i-i 4~4 1 2-2 
inc. ^:^-^; can. ; prem. ^^^ — ; mol. = 42. 

i-i I -I 4-4 3-3 

The number is the same as in Catiis, but they are different 
in detail, as well as much more slender in general. 

In addition to these generic characters, the Royal Fox has 
the following: 


Prairie Red-fox 707 

Length, about 44 inches (1,118 mm.); tail, 16 inches size 
(406 mm.); hind-foot, 7 inches (177 mm.). The females are 
about one-tenth smaller. 

An adult taken at Carberry, October 27, 1884, weighed weight 
10 pounds. 

The general colour is golden-yellow, very pale on the hind- colour 
quarters, also on the forehead, where it is sprinkled with whitish 
hairs, and deepening on the back into a reddish-yellow, which 
extends in a band from shoulder to tail; beginning behind the 
shoulder, this is sprinkled with whitish hairs, giving a pinkish 
effect at a short distance. Legs, dark buff; the black on the 
feet, very limited and mixed with whitish hairs; outer half of 
ears behind, black; tail, pale brown above, shaded into yellow- 
ish below with olive tinge; tip of tail, belly, breast, throat and 
lower jaw, white; on chin and lower parts is often seen dark 
or black tinge in the white. 

This is indeed a flat enumeration of its flat tints, but gives 
no conception of the marvellous colour beauties of its exquis- 
itely blended tawny-pinks, russets, and yellow-browns, set off 
by the old gold, dull silver, and shining ebony of its extremities. 

Black, Silver, and Cross Foxes occur in this species; these freaks 
forms are mere colour freaks, and may be found in the same 
brood with those of ordinary colour. 

A notable example of this is given by A. P. Low, in his 
"Mammals of Labrador," as follows:' 

"On the Moose River, in 1887, the writer found a litter 
containing 7 Kits: of these 2 were red, 3 were cross, and the 
remaining 2 blacks or silver — thus showing that the colour of 
Foxes no more constitutes varieties than does the difference 
of colour in a litter of kittens of the common cat. There 
appears to be a greater proportion of dark-coloured Foxes in 
the northern region than in the southern." 

' Mam. Labrador Penin., Can. Geol. Surv., i8g6, p. 314 L. 


This map is diagrammatic and must be greatly modified by further work, especially in the south and xvest. Antlcosti should have been tinted. 

II is founded chiefly on Dr. C. Han Mcrriam's ' Revision ' witli additional records by E. W. Nelson, S. F. Baird, J. F.annin, R. MacFarlanc, 
Audubon and Hachman, A. P. Low, V. Bailey, E. A. Preble, O. Bangs, A. E. Verrill. 

The following are the species; 

y^ulDfs /ulous (Desmarest), yulfei dcUtrIx Bangs. 

Vulpa macrounij Baird, Vullxi alaxcmis Merriam, with 2 races, 

Vulpfs nccaloT Merriam, Vulpcs k'naicnsh Merriam, 

Vulpci cascadcmh Merriam, VulfXi harrimani Merriam, 

Vuipes rubricosa Bangs, with 2 races, yulpcj regalis Merriam. 


Prairie Red-fox 709 

Another freak is the 'scorched' or 'Samson Fox.' This 
has no long fur, nothing but wool; the cause of this is not 
understood, and the pelt is worthless commercially. 

When seen running on the prairie, the present species ap- 
pears a large straw-coloured animal, with black boots, and 
enormous ears and tail. 

All Manitoba specimens hitherto examined belong to the 
species regalis, but it is quite likely that in the north fulvus will 
be found: 

Vulpes fulvus (Desm.) may be distinguished when alive 
by its much smaller size, general deeper and intenser colours, 
the greater amount of black on the ears and on each leg, and 
the black spot on the base of the tail above. 

Cranially, also, they are well apart; the bullae of regalis 
being much larger in proportion, etc. 


So far as known, this Fox has a very limited range and range 
is confined to the prairie country and adjoining woods. In 
Manitoba it is found in all the south and west parts, on the 
open prairie, in the poplar and pond country, and in much of 
the spruce country. Its favourite localities are the half-open 
regions — there are, indeed, very few creatures that like the 
sunless depths of unbroken forests. The great belt of half- 
timbered country from Roseau River to Dawson Bay probably 
produces more Foxes than any other part of the Province, and 
in this they especially affect localities that are broken by low 
hills and ravines, or that are close to marshes and cover. 

It would be safe to estimate that in the days from 1880 to abun- 
1890 there were 2 pairs of Foxes to every township of this great 
belt, with half as many for the rest of the country. The 
number of fox-tracks across any section of prairie within three 
days of fresh snow made this easy to believe. According to 
these data, there were at least 5,000 Foxes in Manitoba. 

710 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

That this is not an overestimate will appear on setting 
the facts side by side with those supplied in the 'Old Country.' 

After consulting many of my hunting friends, I learn that 
about 11,000 Foxes are killed each year before the hounds in 
Great Britain; while the destruction by keepers, etc., at least 
doubles the number destroyed annually on the 80,000 square 
miles of the British mainland, and would argue a vulpine 
population in the autumn of fully 40,000, to compare with the 
5,000 that I give as a conservative estimate of the Foxes on 
Manitoba's 74,000 square miles. 

Most observers testify that Foxes are growing less numer- 
ous in the Province. This is generally traced directly to the 
increase of Coyotes; which does not necessarily mean actual 
conflict of the two, but that the changing conditions have set 
up new problems of life which the Coyotes have been better 
able to solve. 

The rate of increase among the Blue-foxes of St. George 
Island, Bering Sea, will help us to gauge the increase of Red- 
foxes. This island, about 36 square miles, has about 270 pairs 
of foxes, and, although they are fed and protected and the 
species has 5 to 12 in a litter, not more than 400 to 500 can 
be marketed each year without reducing the stock. - 

The fur returns (given later) show an annual catch of 
74,000 Red-foxes with marketable coats. Considering other 
destruction and their rate of increase, this, I take it, assures a 
wild stock of at least 500,000, possibly 1,000,000, on the 
range covered by the Red-fox group. 

INDIVID- f he home-locality of the indi\idual Fox is, I think, not 

UAL . ■' ... 

RANGE more than 5 miles across. Ordinarily, it does not range so 

far, but, under unusual stress of famine, will cover even a larger 


The evidence is — that when pursued by dogs the Fox 

usually circles at a radius of 2 or 3 miles, differing, of course, 

with the character of the country; also that a number of well- 

'Scc James Judge on Blue-foxes of the Priljilof Islands' Rep. Am. Breeders' 
Assoc, Vol. V, 1909, p. 338. 

Prairie Red-fox 


known Foxes, such as the 'Mahogany Fox' of Hartford, 
'Baldy' of Berkeley, the 'Black Fox' of Blacktail Creek, 
were known and watched for one or more years and usu- 
ally found within 3 or 4 miles of their reputed head-quarters. 

Fig. 190 — Impressions of a Fox's feet, from life. 
Secured by Mrs. Grace G. Seton. 7y^=right front; r//=right hind ; both ; 

Since writing the above, E. Norton, a well-known fox- 
breeder of Dover, Maine, has given me the following corrobora- 
tive information. 

In March of 1885, he and his brother went out near Dover 
with their fox-hounds, hoping to run a she Fox to earth and 
dig her out for a breeder. They soon had one holed up, but 
were disappointed to find it a dog Fox in half-shed coat; he 
was not worth skinning, so they cut the top off one ear and slit 
the other, then turned him loose. Five years afterwards he 
was killed within 4 miles of where first they had caught him. 

At Green Lake, Ont., was a Silver-fox that ranged there for 
a couple of years. My informant, George Linklater, says it 
covered 10 miles, or not more than 15, of country, and was 
there the year round. 






\.A i 

Fig. ioi— Feet of Fox (V. macrourus). 

Sketched in Colorado, Sept. .6, 1902. rf^ix^tiX front; W.= ti|;lit hind; both are life s 

Prairie Red-fox 713 

The habits of the EngHsh Fox affirm this. All the keepers 
and hunters that I have consulted believe that a Fox rarely 
goes more than 4 or 5 miles from home, except when hunted. 

But in the winter it roams over an extent of country 
probably two or three times as large as its summer range. A 
black Fox that lived on the 'Big Plain,' Manitoba, was seen 
about Carberry as far north as Petrel, 9 miles, and south to the 
Sandhills, 4 miles. There is no certainty that it was the same 
Fox, but when one was killed at Petrel it also disappeared at 
Carberry, and if it had lived only about Carberry it would 
have been seen oftener. This seems to give it a winter range 
of at least a dozen miles in diameter. 

Since the relations of mates, or of the young to the parents, socia- 
are excluded in discussing sociability, we must consider the 
Fox but slightly a sociable animal. The only detailed cases 
I have of Foxes working together, refer to two (probably 
mates) that were combining in a hunt. 

This animal is not much given to social amusements, but amuse- 


Norton and Stevens both tell me that on their fur farms m 
Maine it is a common thing for the Foxes to gather on moon- 
light nights and chase each other about with most uproarious 
barking and churring that do not seem to express anything 
but good-will and hilarity. 

This species uses the smell-telephone much less, I think, voice 
than the Wolf does. (See Wolf.) Its principal method of in- 
tercommunication is doubtless by the voice. It has a short 
bark follov(/ed by a little squall like ' yap-yurr.' That is the 
sound oftenest uttered, but it has also a long yell and two or 
three different yowls or screeches as well as softer churr-churrs 
that doubtless have different meanings to its kind. The voice 
of the male is notably heavier and coarser than that of his 

In the pairing season the she Fox utters a very character- 
istic shrill squall. The reply of the male is usually two or 

714 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

three short barks. In autumn, I have several times known a 
Fox come at night around the camp-fire and 'yap' in the man- 
ner of a Coyote. 

It seems to be a soHtary animal during the winter, but the 
mating instinct is awakened in late February or early March, 
and then the track in the snow is often doubled. Those who 
in New England have followed it for miles at this interesting 
period, tell me that all the chapters of romance are duly re- 
corded in the snow — the pursuit, the coquetting, the conquest, 
even the fight between rivals, are fully set forth in the tell-tale 

These fights I have never witnessed among wild free Foxes, 
but L. W. Walker, living in the Yellowstone Park, writes' that 
there they are of daily occurrence in late winter, and the part 
played by the tail is quite important. When the rivals ap- 
proach each other with hostile intent, they stand sidewise with 
the tail raised and pointing forward over the back, ready for 
use as a parry or as a feint; dashing it in the eyes of his foe, 
the Fox distracts attention or prevents him seeing for a mo- 
ment, during which time he tries to gain some advantage. 

Thomas Anderson, of Fort Smith, Hudson Bay Post, tells 
me of a curious occurrence that he witnessed at Poplar Lodge 
River, on the east side of Nipigon Lake, early in March, 1896. 
As he drove his dog-train around a point he came on a pair of 
Foxes accouple. Supposing that he could easily secure both, 
he set his dogs after them, but they turned their heads one way 
and raced ofi^ side by side, allowing no stick or sapling to come 
between them; and thanks partly to a slight crust, they left the 
dogs far behind and escaped, without parting company. 

There can be little doubt that this Fox truly pairs. I have 
never seen or heard o^ more than two full-grown Foxes together 
in Manitoba, but this I have often seen, and have heard of 
times without number. Many observers, among them W. R. 
Hine, have found the home in cubbing time, and in each case 

' Recreation Magazine, May, 1897, p. 339. 

Prairie Red-fox 715 

both parents were about; it seems quite certain that the father 
takes an active interest in the young and helps to care for them. 
All of which tends to prove that our Foxes pair. 

The argument of analogy is also in line, for I have ob- 
served that in Ontario both parents {V. fulvus) take active 
care of the young. In Maine, E. Norton says, the male Fox 
has as much to do with raising the family as the mother has. 

A veteran fox-hunter (J. H. Whitcomb) writes me from 
Ayer, Mass., on April 3, igog: "A day or two ago I saw a 
fox-den where I think there were young ones, and close by in 
the sand a Skunk half buried. I suppose it was for madam, to 
save her from hunting." 

In Wales, as T. W. Proger writes me, the male Fox is a 
faithful partner, bringing food to the female while she is suck- 
ling the young, and has a great affection for his offspring, shar- 
ing with their mother the labour of feeding and caring for them. 

A touching case of this paternal devotion was sent me 
later by this same naturalist: 

"Last spring our old keeper destroyed a litter of young 
cubs, and stopped them into the earth. Four days afterwards 
the old dog Fox came right up to the earth and began to open 
it out again, I concluded, to seek his cubs, but he was caught in 
a trap which the man had set near the blocked-up entrance. 

"I think this is very strong proof that the dog Fox has 
affection for his young, because he knew very well that the trap 
was set there on the first night after the deed was done, but his 
strong desire to find the cubs overcame his habitual caution." 

In view of the evidence direct and by analogy, I think we 
are safe to believe that in life and manners the Manitoba Fox 
is as good as its near kin. 

Granting the pairing, the next question is whether it is 
for the season or for life. There is much evidence of Foxes 
consorting in pairs after the breeding season, and this points 
to union for life. The consensus of opinion among hunters 
and naturalists, according to Dr. Woods Hutchinson,^ agrees 
with this conclusion. 

* Animal Marriage, Cotem. Review, October, 1904, pp. 485-496. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The den, or 'earth,' is the nursery of the Fox. Although 
used chiefly while the cubs are nursing, there are cases to show 
that some Foxes live at home the whole year round. 

It is approached by a burrow of g to 12 inches calibre, 
usually on the sunny side of a hill or bank. Sometimes the 
Foxes make it themselves; sometimes they adapt one that they 

A fox-den which I examined on a wooded hill, near To- 
ronto, had two or three entrances. This was made like the 

Fig. ig2 — Side view or elevation, and plan of the fox-den opened by Geo. L. Fordyce. 

home of a Chipmunk, that is, all the earth was scratched out of 
one hole, though there were several doorways. Those chiefly 
in use had no earth-pile about them to make them conspicuous. 
Indeed, one might have been within ten feet without suspecting 
their presence. 

I have, however, seen many newly made fox-dens which 
had no earth-pile whatever, though the tunnel was fully ten 
feet deep. Evidently the Fox had disposed of the earth by 
scattering it. 

The nest is made in a dry chamber a dozen or more feet 
from the door, and is sometimes lined with a little dry grass. 

Prairie Red-fox 717 

George L. Fordyce'^ writes me that in northern New York 
State he once found a fox-den in a hollow log, another in the 
base of a hollow standing tree, and yet another in the ground, 
apparently dug by the old Fox. This was as here shown 
(Fig. 192). It consisted of two separate parts, the den and a 
store-room, with a quantity of food. 

"I think [he says] this was originally a Woodchuck den, 
which the old Fox enlarged. I have double-lined the Wood- 
chuck part. Both the store-room and the sleeping room seem 
to have been made by the Fox. 

" The air-shaft was one of the Woodchuck entrances. The venti- 
Foxes had only one, but this was the only fox-house I ever knew 
that did not have two or three different doors. 

"There was no bed or lining anywhere, just the clean clean- 
sandy clay in which the tunnel was made. I noticed in partic- 
ular also that there was no excrement or offal of any kind any- 
where in the den. In fact, everything was decidedly clean and 
tidy, though, of course, there was the Fox odour. Some bones, 
feathers, and one or two lamb's legs were found on the pile of 
dirt that had been thrown out in making the tunnel. There 
were, however, but few there, and I am inclined to believe that 
they were perhaps brought out and left there by the young, 
and would have soon been carried away by the old Foxes. 
This is a mere guess on my part, but it is very certain 
that the leavings at the den did not represent more than 
two or three days' meals. The scarcity of garbage about 
the den and the remarkable neatness of all indoors, make 
me believe that the old ones habitually carry away the dung 
and rubbish." 

The period of gestation is now known to be 51 days. young 

The young are born about the first of April and number 
from 4 to 9. N. E. Skinner, of Winnipeg, tells me, that at 
Winnipegosis he found a Black-fox that had young so early 

° Of Youngstown, Ohio. Letter, April 14, 1905. 

718 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

in the season that the mother's pelt was prime, bringing $75, 
though the young were big enough to rear by hand. 

The cubs are clad in lead-coloured fur and look as much 
like kittens as Foxes when they come. They are blind till 
8 or 9 days old. They do not venture out of doors till they 
are three or four weeks old, and the den continues to be their 
only home for 3 months. 

Fordyce sends me also the following interesting notes on 
the Fox family that he observed near Auburn, N. Y. : "One 
morning in the end of March, 1877, a man came to the store 
in the country village where I lived and said that while coming 
across the fields of a neighbour, an old Fox had jumped out of 
a hole in a tree near which he was passing and run away bark- 
ing. I overheard what he was saying, and as it was the same 
wood-lot in which I had found the two young Foxes the previ- 
ous June, I at once thought there might be some cubs in the 
tree. I started out across the fields and 'back-tracked' the 
man, there being snow on the ground, until I came to the place 
where he had stopped. The tree was a standing basswood 
about four feet in diameter. The Fox-track led from the hole 
at the base of the tree, but no track came to it. As it had 
snowed the night before, this indicated that the old one had 
gone in before the snow-storm, and remained there until the 
man had frightened her away. I reached into the hole and 
found that the hollow diameter of the tree was about two feet. 
I felt a warm bunch of little creatures, one of which I pulled 
out, looked at, and, as I had expected, it was a young Fox. 
I then removed my coat, laid it on the snow beside the tree, to 
put them on a warm spot, and took out the others, 9 in all. 
The little creatures did not look unlike new-born kittens, but 
were about twice as large. Their eyes were not open, and I 
do not think, from their condition, they were more than one 
or two days old. I selected one of the lot and took it home to 
raise, but, having no way to feed it properly, it died within a few 
days. I then followed the track which the old Fox had made 
when the man had frightened her away from the tree. She 
had run directly to a hilltop, nearly a quarter of a mile away, 

Prairie Red-fox 


and there stopped to watch him. I followed her track farther 
and found where she had stopped many other places, and, 
finally, where she had stood on a high stump and probably 
watched me while I was at the tree looking at her young. In 
fact, I believe she had watched me from this stump while I had 


Fig. 193 — Diagram of fox-tracks (by G. L. Fordyce), showing approximately the tracks left by the mother Fox 
in moving her brood from the hollow tree to the new den. 

been following her trail, because her tracks showed that she 
had run with greater leaps from the stump straight away into 
the open country. 

"The next morning I went to the tree soon after daylight 
and the young were gone. There was a maze of tracks coming 
and going to the tree. I started out to follow them, settling 
down to one which I followed with considerable difficulty, on 
account of other tracks crossing it, but I finally succeeded in 
locating the den into which she had carried them. It was an 

720 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

old burrow in a hillside about a quarter of a mile from the tree. 
In going back and forth she had gone over a different route each 
time, sometimes far out from a direct line on either side, and 
sometimes far beyond. The number of tracks showed that 
she had carried the young one at a time. For the next two or 
three months I went to the locality of the den frequently, and 
occasionally, from a distance, would see the young Foxes out 
playing in the sunlight. When I attempted to steal nearer to 
them, 1 would invariably hear the old one give a bark or two 
from some place on the hill, which was a signal for the cubs 
to disappear into one of the holes. About July i, wnen the 
young became larger, my desire to take one became irresistible. 
As the den was in ground that was filled with rocks and roots 
of trees, digging for them was out of the question, so I de- 
cided to set traps in each of the holes. The next morning I 
found one of the traps pulled out of the hole and sprung, likely 
by the old Fox. I set this trap again, but none of the traps 
were disturbed thereafter, the Fox family having moved 

On these occasions Fordyce saw only one Fox about, and 
assumed it to be the female. His observations, however, were 
made chicHy while the cubs were small. 

That the father Fox (of Vulpes vulpes) is never forgetful 
of the young brood is shown by evidence sent me from Wales 
by T. W. Proger: 

"When the cubs are very young, he will frequently bring 
food right up to the earth, but as they get older he does not do 
this, but drops it at a distance from the earth, a hundred yards 
or more. This may be done to teach the cubs to hunt for 
themselves, as the rabbit or bird, as the case may be, is often 
lightly covered with leaves and mould, and it would certainly 
be very good practice for the youngsters." 

The place around a fox-den is usually littered with bones 
and feathers of their prey, but they also have an indoor banquet- 
ing hall. As already noted, Fordyce dug out a fox-den early 
in May, 1878. "During the winter of 1878," he says, "I had 

Prairie Red-fox 721 

tracked a Fox into this den. In early May it was reported 
that Foxes were killing lambs in the neighbourhood. I went at 
once to the place and found about the hole abundance of bones, 
wool, and feathers, indicating that it was the home of a Fox 
family. The next morning two other boys went with me to dig 
them out. We followed the main hole, which went down 
with a gradual slope for about 3 feet from the surface of the 
ground. It continued nearly level for about 20 feet, where 
we found 3 young Foxes grown to about the size of an ordinary 
house cat. After getting them into a bag we went back to a 
branch from the main hole that we had passed in digging. 
Following it for about 4 feet, we found an enlarged dug-out 
space which was used as a store-room. " (See plan, page 716.) 

Concerning one which he kept captive, my informant 
writes: "One day in June, 1876, my cousin and I chopped 
3 young Foxes out of a long hollow log. They were about one- 
third grown and quite savage. 

"We each took one to our homes. After keeping mine for 
several months, until well grown, it was killed by a neighbour, 
on account of catching chickens. It seems to me this Fox did 
some 'thinking' in its method of taking the chickens. I had 
dug a trench in the ground, gradually sloping it down until 
about 2 feet deep and 6 feet long. At the bottom of the 
trench I placed a wooden box with a wooden arch leading 
down to it. When the dirt was filled in, this made rather a 
good den underground. The Fox was fastened with a chain at- 
tached to an overhanging pole, which gave it free access in and 
out of this den with a radius of perhaps 20 feet on the out- 
side. Our neighbour's chickens were running about the yard 
more or less, and the Fox began catching them. I watched to 
see how it was done, and found that when food was given the 
Fox, it would, instead of eating it, place it almost as far away 
from the opening of the den as its chain could reach. The 
Fox would then back down into the hole and wait until the 
chickens came for the food, and when one got inside the 
radius of its chain, it would have chicken for dinner instead of 
the food I had given it. One thing I noticed in particular was 

722 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that it seldom missed getting a chicken when it jumped for 
one; in fact, it never made a jump except the chicken was inside 
the chain hmit." 

During June and July I often visited the Ontario fox-den 
referred to above, sometimes going at night, and usually taking 
my hound with me. And on each occasion, long before nearing 
the place, we were met by one of the old Foxes, who would 
deliberately cross our path or bark at us from a hillside, tempt- 
ing the dog away in pursuit. The latter would dash off at full 
cry, and I could tell by his tonguing that the trail led to a 
distant part of the country, either along the railway track or 
down the river, where the Fox easily got rid of him by some 
trick. One of these tricks I witnessed in daylight. The Fox 
led the dog down the river, then, retracing his steps for forty 
or fifty yards, he scrambled along a steep bank of sand that 
edged the stream. The sand apparently carried no scent; the 
hound could not follow it at all. 

I saw the Fox do this several times at the same place. In- 
deed, he was shot here by one of my friends, in the act of repeat- 
ing the performance. This turned out to be the male Fox. 
Evidently he was actively interested in the care of the young. 

One day (July 15) I saw the mother Fox carrying a live 
hen from our barnyard across the river and up towards the den. 
I believe she was keeping it alive with intent to let the young 
ones have the practice of killing it, just as a cat will bring live 
game to her kittens. 

As soon as the young are large enough to come out of 
doors, they romp and play about in a delightful fashion, com- 
bining the elegant suppleness of the Otter with the frolicsome 
ways of kittens, but are ever ready to fly home at the slightest 
alarm. Usually the alarm is given by the ever-watchful 

There is, of course, only one brood to the season. The 
young are nearly full grown by the end of August, but are still 
in the old home with their parents. Such quantities of game, 
dead and alive, have been brought to them during the summer 

Prairie Red-fox 723 

that their front door is now dangerously marked with the bones 
and feathers of the victims. 

The young probably scatter voluntarily before winter, but 
it is interesting to remember that in England a systematic effort, 
called cub-hunting, is found necessary each year, in October, 
to disperse the families and improve the hunting by equalizing 
the distribution of Foxes. 

I have never seen the young accompanying their mother; 
indeed, 2 Foxes are the most I have known together. 

The Eastern Fox seems to hold its own very well, wherever habits 
there is rough country for final retreat. I suspect that there 
are even more Foxes in New England and Ontario to-day than 
in the early times, for the reason that food is more plentiful 
in winter now, and at no time did the Fox prefer the deep 
forest. I remember very well once in June, 1885, near Cobo- 
conk, Ont., seeing a Fox trot out of the woods ahead of me for 
fifty yards along the path, then disappear without knowing 
I was near. I mentioned this at a camp I came to in the 
evening. Two lumbermen were its total population, one had 
been 16 years in the Muskoka woods, the other a little less, 
but both said that they had never yet seen a live wild Fox in 
the country. 

The world-famed cunning of the European Fox is due in men- 
part, no doubt, to the ceaseless persecution it has suffered so 
long. Yet our American Foxes are not unworthy of their 
trans-Atlantic cousins. From birth they have a deep-laid fear 
of every strange or peculiar object, and they early acquire a 
horror of anything that bears the taint of man. Their mode 
of life is, moreover, a constant sharpener of their wits. And the 
quickness with which they learn to distinguish and distrust 
the latest devices of the trappers, is wonderful evidence of 
their cunning, perhaps also of their power to communicate 
certain ideas. 

When caught by the foot a Fox will struggle violently, 
twisting and tearing at the foot, sometimes till it is torn off. 

724 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Some trappers say it will amputate the leg if need be. I have 
never seen this, but I have known the Fox to bite ofif the im- 
prisoned toes below the trap. This, whether design or accident, 
is the best thing it can do, as it can then jerk free with the least 
possible loss and pain. 

Many hunters and farmers in England have told me that 
a Fox never kills near home. It has no wish for trouble with 
the near neighbours. The barnyard next its den is perfectly 
safe so far as this pair is concerned. I am not sure that this 
is the case in Manitoba as yet. 

There is a device that I have several times known the 
Ontario Fox to resort to when pressed by the hounds, that is, 
run along the railway ahead of a train, and cross a high trestle 
bridge. On one occasion I knew of a hound being thrown by 
the locomotive from the trestle into the river below, minus his 
tail, but otherwise unhurt. I was told, however, that all were 
not so fortunate, as some hounds had been killed at the same 
place in a similar way. It is very hard to say how much was 
intentional on the part of the Fox. The fox-hunters who 
know the animal, say it was intentional throughout. Some 
maintain that it was entirely accidental. It certainly was not 
necessary for the Fox to know anything about train times, as 
he could hear the train coming miles away. The track is a 
notoriously bad place for scent to lie, the trestle was a place 
of difficult footing, like a sloping tree, which often furnishes 
refuge, or the steep sand bank already noted, where I several 
times saw the Fox baffle the hounds. He might run to the 
train, just as I have known a Deer or Hare run to a wagon or 
sleigh when flying for its life, preferring the unknown terror to 
the certain death. Add to this the element of luck when first 
the Fox made the attempt; success that time would lead him 
to try again. 

I have several times been told by hunters, of Fox mothers 
poisoning their captive cubs because they could not free them. 
I am more sceptical now than I was formerly of these accounts, 
not because, as some have illogically asserted, this would 
postulate a knowledge of the nature of poison and of death on 

Prairie Red-fox 725 

the part of the Fox — it would be just as true to claim that a 
Cougar has a comprehension of locomotor paralysis because 
it aims to disrupt the spinal cord of its victim — but because the 
evidence was faulty. The possibility of murder under such 
circumstances is proved by the facts that cattle will often kill 
one of their own kind that is in dire extremity; a crow in 
trouble is sometimes destroyed by his friends; a Mouse in a 
trap is often devoured by its own companions. E. Hofer 
reports a case in the Yellowstone of a little Bear cub that 
on the first night of its captivity was killed and eaten by 
one of its adult wild kinsmen. In menageries many car- 
nivorous mothers, including Foxes, kill a large proportion 
of their own young, especially when they learn that man 
has tampered with them. And, finally. Wolves and Foxes 
have certainly grasped the idea that poison is a thing of 
danger. These various facts bring us much nearer to accept- 
ance of the hunter's tradition, without, however, being con- 
clusive. They at least remove it from the category of the 
wildly impossible. 

It is well known that the English Fox will unite with 
another, probably its mate, to catch a Hare, by the old strata- 
gem of drive and ambush. W. R. Hine reports a similar 
subtlety on the part of the Manitoba species. 

Near Morris, in 1885, he once saw 2 Foxes working to- 
gether to stalk some Canada geese that were feeding on the open 
prairie. One Fox was lying in wait in some slight cover; the 
other was approaching from the opposite direction, one hundred 
yards away. It crawled as close as possible, then, seeing that 
the ever-watchful geese were alarmed, it began to roll about on 
its back in plain view, and tumble over, looking much like a 
bundle of dry grass that is being blown about by the wind. 
Each move brought it nearer to the geese, who, knowing it well 
for an enemy, kept moving away as they grazed, and thus 
drifted towards the Fox in ambush. Hine was satisfied that 
the two were working together, but did not see it out. When 
he had got within about fifty yards he 'collected' the Fox and 
a goose with 'right and left.' 

726 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

NON- I have not seen any good evidence of migration among 

TORY Manitoba Foxes. The fact that they are much more often 
seen in fall is due, of course, to the fact that the Fox population 
is then at its maximum; the families are breaking up, and the 
young are running about in search of the best hunting grounds. 
Their habits change but little, however, with the changing 

SPEED The best speed of an average Fox for i mile is at the 

rate of about 26 miles an hour. This is faster than a Coyote, 
but slower than a Jack-rabbit. 

A. S. Barton, of Boissevain, sends me an interesting item 
on this head. "Once," he says, "while mounted on a fast 
saddle-horse I ran a Fox for half a mile, both of us doing our 
best, but it was an even race all the way. I should say the 
horse was doing two-minute time, as his record was 1.51 for 
the mile." Therefore this Fox was running at the rate of 30 
miles an hour. Doubtless it was his highest speed, and he 
must have been an exceptional Fox. 

USE OF No one can long watch a caged Fox in winter time without 

discerning the use to which it puts its great bushy tail. Its 
nose and pads are the only exposed parts, and these might 
easily be frost-bitten when it sleeps during severe weather. But 
it is always careful on lying down to draw these together, then 
curl the brush around them; it acts both as wrap and respirator. 
I have many times seen wild ones do this same thing, and am 
satisfied that the tail is a necessary of life to the Fox, as well as 
to the Squirrel and Wolf. I believe a Fox or Coyote would 
die before spring if turned out in the autumn without a tail. 
The brush is large in proportion to the coldness of the 
climate. In Foxes from the Southern States it is a very meagre 
thing, but on the Saskatchewan and further north, it is enor- 
mous, looking at a distance almost as large as the Fox's body, 
and, of course, it reaches its greatest size in the depth of winter. 
The coat in general is developed by cold, but not apparently 
to the same extent as the tail. 




Prairie Red-fox 727 

As already noted, this useful member serves further as a 
fender in fighting, but it has also its disadvantage. Dunham 
Wheeler, of New York, tells me that once while hunting a Fox 
in the Adirondacks, during early spring, when the snow was 
deepest and wet, he saw the creature coming toward him; it 
stopped and seemed to worry its tail; again it did this when 
nearer. He shot the Fox and found that its tail was heavy 
with water, and, when the crafty one stopped, it had been to 
wring or stamp out the water with its front paws and so reduce 
the heavy burden of the water-logged brush. 

In the early part of the winter the Fox hunts chiefly at dusk, hunt- 
but the growing scarcity of food increases the need for diligence, 
and in February and March it may be seen abroad at all hours. 

I have often followed a fox-track for miles to learn this 
hunter's methods. He goes on a general up-wind course, but 
turns aside to examine every promising thicket and sedgy 
hollow. He goes to all the places where he remembers having 
good luck on previous hunts; he calls and sniffs at all the signal 
posts as described in the Wolf account, though to a less 
degree. He adds his own record to those already inscribed. 
He trots along ridge after ridge, he seeks out a bare knoll on 
which he has voided dung before now, and, finding the spot, 
endeavours to repeat the act. He stops at the slightest click of 
leaf or twig, freezes to a statue in an instant, holding one foot 
up in a pose of wonderful grace. Sometimes he stands on 
hind-legs to overlook the grass or bounds aloft for an observa- 
tion hop, after the manner of a Jack-rabbit. He searches the 
wind with his nose, he trots on by the hour, missing nothing, 
and passing from cover to cover, in a somewhat zigzag line, but 
with a general up-wind course. He sneaks by settlers' homes, 
looking for luck, and is not above feasting on offal. He looks 
out sharply for the dog, and, if pursued, easily leaves his foe 
behind in a few hundred yards, then will sometimes turn and 
bark in defiance, tempting the dog to further pursuit. He runs 
across the fresh track of a Rabbit, follows this for a time, and 
may even succeed in springing on the crouching Bunny; but the 

Fig. ig4 — Fox-tracks in snow, 

A. showi.ic whfrc the Fo«. cn.crinc at top. c.imc clown .-...,1 ,.„c.,rlhc<l a snake, which he killed H. the second part, showing where the I-o. 
SCiiked two (iroLse hidden in the snow and secured one. The various pauses as well as the touches of the tad ate clearly shown. 


Prairie Red-fox 729 

latter is as alert as the Fox, and has the advantage of awaiting 
approach. Usually it gets into the brush, where the hunter 
must give up the hunt. 

In following the trail of a hunting Fox once, I saw where he 
had dug out a torpid garter-snake, bitten it nearly in two, and 
left it lying on the snow, intending, it seemed, to come back for 
it if he found nothing better. 

But, farther on, the track recorded how the prowler had 
scented two prairie-chickens asleep in a drift of soft snow, had 
stalked them with nose worthy of a pointer and step worthy of 
a cat, had come just above them before they awoke to their 
danger, and when they burst out of the drift he had sprung 
and secured the nearest. Having now abundance of this finest 
food, he was not compelled to go back for the cold snake, which 
is never good eating, and on a cold day would have been a 
very cold lunch indeed. 

When satisfied or tired, he lies down for a nap, not usually 
in a hollow, but on some exposed place, the top of a bank, a 
boulder, a log, or a stump. Here he curls up in a ball, his 
blanket is on his back, and his travelling rug is his tail, his big 
black ears, sticking a little above his tail, are the only things 
that break the rounded yellow of the ball. 

He looks like a yellow stone, and seems to know it. Once 
while travelling on the Souris in 1882, my brother and myself 
noticed a yellow boulder, among others, on a ridge. He said: 
"Look at that; doesn't it look like a Fox ?" I said: "No, I see 
nothing but a yellow boulder." We marched within thirty 
paces, ourselves, our wagon, and oxen. When twenty yards 
past, a puff of wind seemed to cause a crack in the boulder. 
My brother stopped and said: "I'm sure that's no boulder; it 
looks to me like a Fox." He turned aside, took one step 
towards it, and at once the Fox sprang up and ran for dear life. 
He skurried across a stretch of burnt black prairie, then, reach- 
ing a bit of unburnt yellow grass three hundred yards away, 
crouched down in this and watched us again, not, I suspect, 
because he knew the grass to be a good match with his own 
colour, but simply because it was cover. 

730 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

I do not think he was asleep when we passed him, because 
we had a heavy wagon and the oxen were driven with the usual 
noise. I believe he was watching over or through' his tail, and 
would have lain still, trusting to escape notice, had not my 
brother alarmed him by leaving the trail and stepping towards 

The Fox does not have its regular hours of sleeping any 
more than of eating, except that it prefers to sleep in sunlight, 







jSMBs-i ' 


- ■i'm:;-; 


but its sleep may be broken into a dozen naps, for it curls up 
when it feels tired and has satisfied its hunger. 

Foxes have little use for a den in the winter. At one time 
I thought they kept entirely clear of them while the snow was 
on the ground, but in following one that had gone off with a 
trap on his foot, I found that he went into every den and 
Badger hole that he came to, apparently in hopes of leaving 
the trap behind. 

W. R. Hine tells me that he also has tracked Foxes into 
dens when there was snow. 

I have several times seen a Fox mobbed by birds, usually 
crows, but once by a lot of kill-deers. These noisy plovers 
seemed to be actuated by fear for their young, recognizing very 
clearly that the Fox was an enemy, but the crows could not 

^5,i^S>-^f^ )»■ 

Prairie Red-fox 731 

have been inspired by such a thought; in one case, Indeed, it 
was mid-July, but the Fox had already secured a fowl, and the 
crows were mobbing him because, knowing his dislike of 
'a scene,' they hoped he might abandon his plunder to get rid 
of them, and so they would profit by his success. 

This animal is popularly supposed to subsist chiefly on food 
poultry. Rabbits, and game birds. I have known it to kill each 
of these, but I suspect that Mice form the largest part of its 

The Fox spends so much time catching Mice that he is mouse 
often seen in the act. Many times, by means of a telescope, I ing 
have observed one in broad daylight, while he secured his easy 
prey. Selecting some well-known mouse-haunt, usually a 
grassy hollow, he advances quietly, looking this way and that 
for the slightest rustle, alert to the finest sound, tiptoeing, even 
standing on his hind-legs to see more clearly over the grass. A 
squeak, or perhaps the movement of the grass-tops, catches his 
eye, and he springs for the root of the long vibrating spear, 
slaying with a nip the Mouse that he probably does not see, 
then separates it later from the grass, to chew and swallow the 
morsel in a few seconds. His movements are full of elegance 
and his habits of graceful poses. I know of no prettier sight 
than a Royal Fox, red and rich in his sleek new coat with its 
black velvet facings and its trimmings of silver and gold, as he 
hunts for Mice among the rank foliage and flowers of a prairie- 
hollow in Manitoba. 

A similar scene has been described to me by W. R. Hine. 
In this case, however, the Fox was not a common yellow one, 
but a superb Silver-black. 

In the October of 1887, while out shooting grouse on the 
Emerson Trail, two miles south of Winnipeg, he saw a large 
Black-fox on the open prairie, some five hundred yards away. 
It was catching Mice, and paid little heed to him as he drove 
by in a rig with his father and brother. Hine whistled heed- 
lessly and passed the mouser at one hundred yard distance. 


732 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

taking care not to go straight towards it. At length its sus- 
picions were aroused and it crouched; ahhough the grass was 
but six inches high, it sunk so low that he could see nothing but 
its black ears. The gunner drove in a circle ever nearer with- 
out alarming it, except that the Fox crouched yet lower, and at 
fifty yards shot him with a charge of heavy shot. Although it 
was October, the pelt was already prime. 

The squeak of a Mouse has such a charm for the Fox that 
even a poor imitation will bring him at a run towards the 
squeaker. Even when pursued by the hunter he will jump at 
the sound of a mouse-squeak and, if the dogs be not too close, 
will turn for an instant to a statue, then try to locate that 
sound of sweetest promise. 

STORAGE Most animals of the Dog Family store up food when they 

have more than they need. T. W. Proger writes me concerning 
the Fox (Fill pes viil pes) in Wales, that "it usually buries sur- 
plus food. These caches he returns to infallibly. I think it 
probable that the Vixen stores up food as her time draws near, 
so as to have plenty to eat while she is unable to hunt. I do 
not think one Fox would touch a cache belonging to another, 
unless hard pressed. They certainly never forget the place, 
though I do not believe the story that they mark it well by 

"A cock pheasant killed by a Fox and cached for a week in 
cool beech leaves is considered by poachers the finest eating on 

The Ontario Fox is said to hide food in this way, but I 
have no evidence for the Manitoba species. Observations on 
these points are much desired. 

On the fur farm at Dover, Maine, the Foxes {F. fulvus) 
habitually bury food. They watch near the place and are 
ready to fight any other Fox trying to appropriate the store. 
If it is interfered with by man they bury it elsewhere. They 
return to it as soon as hungry, and if there is more than they 
need, they re-cache the remainder. The Red-fox has not been 
seen to urinate on its cache, but the Blue-fox does. 

Prairie Red-fox 733 

In the den already described by G. L. Fordyce was a 
large separate apartment for stores. In it he found two 
lambs, one partly eaten, a ruffed grouse, a Cottontail Rabbit, 
and a Muskrat, all perfectly fresh, with the exception of one 
lamb, they had not been eaten at all. The Muskrat was not 
injured in any way by the old Fox, the only marks on the 
body being where she had crushed its back in killing it. He 
found this out in removing the skin, v/hich he afterwards 

B. R. Ross credits the northern Fox with the highest kind 
of storage. He says:" "When a Fox finds a piece of meat or a 
fish, he almost invariably hides it, and returns to eat it at some 
future time. I have remarked this trait even in cubs which I 
have reared in confinement, and which used previous to eating, 
to dig holes in the snow, to bury their food, pushing the snow 
with their noses to cover it. During the commencement of 
summer he will lay up a store of the eggs of the wild-fowl, for 
his winter consumption. These he deposits in holes dug in 
the sand bars of the river, or in beds of moss, and at the expira- 
tion of several months will, when hard pressed by want, visit 
his caches. Even when there are several feet of snow, he will 
readily distinguish the place by scenting his urine with which 
a Fox usually sprinkles in a liberal manner all his secret 

This storage habit is asserted also by Thomas Anderson, 
of Fort Smith. He says that it is well known in that country 
that the Fox stores eggs for time of famine. 

Fox-dung is not an attractive study material at first, but dung 
after a few weeks' exposure to rain and sun it is dried, bleached, 
and purified. All foecal matter is gone, though it retains its 
shape. Now it is odorless and closely resembles owl-pellets. 

The undigested remains of Mice, birds, etc., their skulls, 
feet, hair, and feathers are easily separated and distinguished. 
A valuable chapter on Fox food can be gathered from such 
examinations. Those that I have conducted go to prove that 

• Fur-bearing Animals, Mack. R. Dist., Can. Nat., 1861, p. 17. 


734 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

by far the largest proportion of this food is Mice and Gophers, 
so that, on the whole, our Manitoba Fox must be considered a 
creature beneficial to agriculture. 

HYBRID- On January 28, 1902, at the Cincinnati Zoo, I was shown 

a curious creature supposed to be a cross between a Fox and a 
dog. The Director said it had been found in the woods near 
Cincinnati when it was perhaps two months old. It was 
lying in a hollow stump with two others of the same kind. 
The boy who found them carried them home without waiting 
to see of what sort the parents were. Two died, but this one 
was successfully reared on a bottle. Its appearance suggested 
Coyote rather than Fox, I thought, but there were no Coyotes 
within some hundreds of miles. The creature was good- 
natured and friendly and had much the appearance of a slim, 
yellowish sheep-dog. 

On September 16, 1901, while camped in Colorado, on the 
South Fork of William's River, the boys of my outfit found a 
sick Fox {V. macrourus) in a willow thicket. It was very thin 
and weak, and its hind-legs were paralyzed; it could hardly 
walk. One of the men killed it with his riding-whip and 
brought it to me for examination. Its mouth was full of 
Porcupine quills, doubtless its inside also was suffering from 
the same, but its condition was such that I did not risk an 
autopsy. Though an adult male, it weighed only 6 pounds 
10 ounces. 

There can be no doubt that in the northern wilderness 
Foxes are preyed on by Wolves, Lynxes, and Fishers, while 
their young are destroyed by every evil beast that can find 
them, as well as by most of the larger birds of prey. 

1 he killing of a Fox by an eagle is described in great detail 
by a correspondent of Forest and Stream.'' The eagle was the 
aggressor, and the Fox, being on the open prairie, had no 
chance to seek cover. As the tragedy took place near Estevan, 
Sask., the Fox was probably of the present species. 

' W. M., Forest and Stream, February g, i8g6. 

, Composed almost entirely of mouse-fur, with some of Red-squirrel and Chipmunk. Quebec, 40 

tember 15, iqos. 

. Chiefly of soft. dark, fine fur, probably from Rocky Mountain Woodchuck, Yellowstone Park. July 5, 1897. 
Noted chiefly on account of the unmistakable claw-mark signature, Essex, Eng., January 21, 1906. 

; east of Kippewa, Sep- 

Prairie Red-fox 


There are several records of rabies among Foxes, but none dis- 
of other epidemics, so far as I know. etc. ' 

The following affords important light on the age attained age 
by this animal. 

Christian Sanderson, of Chadd's Ford, Pa., tells me 
(October 30, 1905) that in March, 1897, an old dog Fox, 

4 ^"'.^oi- 

Fig. 196 — Life-study of the Fox that attacked the Porcupine, Colorado. 

locally famous as a runner, was trapped near the Ford. A 
silver collar with inscription was put on his neck, and he was 
released on the one-hundredth anniversary of Bayard Taylor's 
fox-hunt in "Kennett." He lived and doubtless was hunted 
many times until 1905, when, after a good run, he was killed 
at a point 60 miles due south of Kennett. He was evidently 
aged when killed. Thus he had run for 8 years after he was 
fully adult. This agrees with the belief that a Fox is old at 
10 years, and rarely reaches 15. 

736 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

A corroborative note is supplied me by Dr. J. W. Walker, 
of Wakefield, Eng. He knew of a Fox that ran before the 
local hounds three or four times each year for 7 years, before it 
was killed. 

STRANGE An interesting; case of a Fox cub that knew how to take 

INSTAN- , . 

cEs care of himself is vouched for by Dunham Wheeler, of New 
York. He had five young Foxes in a cage; one of these 
had the ill-luck to break his hind-leg. The others plagued 
him so that their captor gave him a little box in which 
was room only for one. Here he at once ensconced himself, 
snarling savagely and threatening, with back-turned ears, 
whenever any of the others approached; and he stayed 
there until the broken leg healed, when he leaped out as 
sound as ever. 

Possibly connected with the instinct for rolling on any 
strange strong scent, is the following related by L. R. Gridley, 
of Appleton, Wis. His wife's father, a trapper in Wisconsin, 
found a certain trap sprung again and again, but nothing in it 
except long Fox hairs. At length he sat up to watch. At four 
in the morning the Fox came and rolled over the trap. It 
sprung at once, but could not grip on his broad body; he ate 
the bait in comfort and went his way. But the trapper now 
set one of those abominations called a clawed otter-trap, and 
next night Reynard was caught by the back. 

FUR • During the 85 years, 1821' to 1905 inclusive, the Hud- 

son's Bay Company collected 1,536,420 skins of this species; 
an average of 18,075 for each year. The lowest was 2,757 in 
1826, the highest 52,693 in 1876. The average for the 10 
years, 1895 to 1905, was 22,671. 

Poland's lists" show that during the 71 years, 1821 to 1891 
inclusive, 3,831,516 skins were taken by the other American 

' 182 1 was the first year when the Hudson's Bay Company's operations ex- 
tended without opposition over all the far country of British North America. 

"In using these lists one must remember that he gives year of marketing, whereas 
the furs were taken the year before; also certain returns had two years' catch represented, 
others but half a year's catch. 

Prairie Red-fox 737 

companies, an average of 53,965 each year. So that the aver- 
age annual catch of American Red-foxes for fur is about 74,000. 

At the London annual fur sale held by Lampson's, fur of 
March, 1906, there were 25,496 Red-fox skins. The highest mon- 
price reached was 41 shillings (^9.84) each for 288 dark skins. ^°^ ■ 
First-class skins brought usually 15 shillings to 30 shillings 
(^3.60 to $7.20), but inferior skins sold as low as i shilling and 
2 shillings (24 cents to 48 cents). 


The Cross-fox is the half melanism or partly black 
freak. At the above sales 3,697 Cross-foxes were sold. The 
highest price realized was 75 shillings ($18.00) each for 26 
first-class dark skins, but 30 shillings to 35 shillings ($7.20 to 
$8.40) may be considered ruling prices for first-class, from which 
they graded down to 20 shillings ($4.80) for second-class, and 
7 shillings ($1.68) to 15 shillings ($3.60) for third-class. 

The most valuable fur in the world is doubtless that of the 
the rare and wonderful Sea-otter. A prime skin of this brings fox 
from $500 to $800. Next to the Sea-otter comes the Black or 
Silver-fox. This is, of course, simply a superb melanism of 
the common Red-fox. It is intense black with more or less 
silver tipping of the hairs on head and rump, the less tipping the 
higher the value. 

Miller Christy sends me the following interesting item: 
"At the Hudson's Bay Company annual fur sale, held in 
London, March, 1900, 601 Silver-foxes were sold, bringing an 
average price each of ;^5o ibs. id. ($247), and 3 especially 
fine pure black skins brought, respectively, ;^3io ($1,507), 
£t,j^o ($1,652), and i;400 ($1,944); that is, ;i^i,o5o or $5,103 
for the 3. 

The record price for a Black-fox is, according to D. A. 
Boscowitz, ;^540 ($2,625), given by Grunwaldt, of Paris, in 
1889, at C. M» Lampson & Co.'s sale. Such a purchase, 
however, can scarcely be considered a representative commer- 
cial transaction. 

738 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

At the London annual fur sales, held by Lampson's, 
March, 1906, 992 Silver-fox skins were sold. 

The highest prices realized were £320, ;{^3io, ;^3io, ;^28o, 
;^220, ;^2io, ;^i90 (that is, ^1,555, $1,506, $1,506, $1,360, 
$1,070, $1,020, $883). These were for skins of unusual size 
and marvellous beauty. The ordinary run of first-class skins 
brought only ;^50 to ;^8o ($243 to $388), and many Silver-foxes 
of inferior quality brought only £1 or £2 ($4.80 to $9.60). 
Lest the frontier trapper who sees the above be led into undue 
appreciation of his fur, it is well to remember that the fur-dealer 
has three great risks to face, damage in transport, damage in 
storage, and, above all, damage through the freaks of fashion. 
The intrinsic value of Silver-fox as an article of clothing is 
little more than that of the Red-fox, say $5 or $10 a skin. But 
Silver-fox is beautiful, rare, and fashionable, hence the fancy 
prices paid. It is always within the range of possibility that 
the fashion may suddenly change and the price of choicest 
skins drop to a fraction of the last ruling figures. The prices 
paid at the trading posts to-day have been fairly adjusted by 
keen competition; they certainly are not too low. 

The lustre, fulness, and beauty of the Silver-fox fur are 
unique and inimitable. Its market value is so high that suc- 
cessful attempts are being made to breed Foxes for their pelts. 
As the subject is of wide interest, I reproduce an article which 
I wrote for Country Life, in 1905. 

Fox-Farming for Fur 

The rapid disappearance of certain wild Fur-bearers, com- 
bined with the steady demand and ever-rising prices com- 
manded by good furs, has led many to look for means of arti- 
ficially supplying the want. 

It is years since the idea of breeding for fur was first 
discussed, but never were the times so ripe as now, and it is the 
object of this article to set forth the important branches of 
the new industry for the benefit of those who wish to embark 
in it. 

Prairie Red-fox 739 

This kind of farming offers two distinct fields. First: 
the production of a new variety of some already domesticated 
and easily multiplied animal — as cat, dog, goat, rabbit, or cow — 
with a coat of such quality as to have a new value as fur. 

The second, the breeding, under protection, of certain 
wild animals whose fur has already an established market 
value. In this class are Beaver, Mink, Otter, Skunk, Marten, 
Fisher, and Fox. 

In other words, one makes a fur-bearer of an animal 
already domestic; the other makes domestic an animal already 
a fur-bearer. 

The second is the only department that will be treated 
herein. There are two ways of dealing with this; we may call 
them the wholesale and the retail. 

The first is the instinctive choice of the beginner. He 
usually plans to get possession of an island, a mountain valley, 
or at least a couple of hundred acres of wild land with a high 
fence around it. This he expects to stock with fur-bearers 
that will increase speedily to thousands, after which he has 
nothing to do but shovel in a few tons of offal weekly and draw 
off a few thousand of the choicest pelts yearly. This is what 
I call the wholesale method. It has never yet succeeded 
with Red-foxes, nor indeed with any creature that I know of, 
except, perhaps to some extent, the Blue-fox on the islands of 

Success in breeding any domestic animal turns on personal 
care that can be directed and adapted to each individual, if 
need be; which is, obliquely, a reason why the would-be fur- 
farmer is better off with five acres than with five hundred. 
This individual method is what I call the retail plan; it has 
been proved a success many times. 

Fur-farming is a good chance for small capital. A man of 
experience may put in ^i,ooo and get a remarkable percentage 
as soon as well started. But any one who thinks he can put 
in ^10,000 or $20,000 and do the same with little experience 
and labour is certainly going to end in disaster. 

There is no object in breeding cheap furs. A Muskrat 

740 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

with its fifteen-cent pelt is almost as much trouble to raise 
as a $300 Silver-fox, therefore only the high-class fur should 
be considered. 

What is the most valuable fur of all ? No doubt the Sea- 
otter. But the animal is so rare that a large fortune would be 
exhausted in getting the stock, and nothing is known of the 
method necessary to its propagation. 

Next on the list is the Silver-fox. The Black or Silver- 
fox is nothing but a black phase or freak of the Common-fox, 
just as the black sheep is a colour freak of the common sheep. 
A pair of pure Red-foxes may have a Black-fox in their litter, 
and that Black-fox may grow up to be the parent of nothing but 
Red-foxes, but a Red-fox will bring only a dollar or two, and 
the Silver-fox a hundred times as much. 

The thoughts of the fur-farmer, then, are likely to turn 
at once to the Silver-fox. The first objection usually made to 
it is its sterility in captivity. At one time, indeed, it was said 
that the Fox never breeds in confinement. This, however, is 
far from the truth. Experience proves that the Fox is as 
fertile in captivity as any other carnivore when properly 
managed. Another popular error that is wide-spread, even 
in books of good repute, is the idea that a Fox cannot be tamed. 
It is highly probable that some individuals will always continue 
wild and treacherous in captivity, but most of them respond to 
judicious treatment, and some of them, as I have seen, become 
as tame as cats. 

I first saw Foxes successfully managed by N. E. Skinner, 
of Bangor, Maine. He began a fur-farm in Winnipeg in 1899. 
But the best working out of fox-farming as a paying commercial 
enterprise that I have seen, is at Dover, Maine, where I had 
the privilege of inspecting the farms of E. Norton and M. F. 
Stevens, in July, 1905. 

Stevens's enclosures were 30 feet each way and sur- 
rounded by a mesh-wire fence 10 feet high with an 18-inch 
overhang at the top, and sunk 3 feet into the ground. Six 
feet would have been high enough, but at Dover they have 
to reckon on snow-drifts 4 feet high. The overhang above 


. f^f '*^^*?^s:^ 

r-. *^",f v^.-'-- -^rijiP- Madams -.AA 

Foxes on fur farm. 
From photographs by E. T. Seton. 

Prairie Red-fox 741 

is necessary, as the Foxes climb up the wires hke cats. It is 
quite a common thing to see one or more of them chnging to 
the cage at a height of lo feet from the ground, and there 
they stay for minutes at a time trying to get out by forcing 
the wires. 

The Norton yards at Dover are considerably larger than 
the Stevens, his smallest being 50 by 25 feet, and the large runs 
230 by 64 feet. The fences are alike. 

After inspecting these two farms, and hearing of the 
various problems to be met, I should thus plan a small fox-yard 
— and no wise man will go into a large one until after he has 
had enough experience to avoid the inevitable blunders that 
on a large scale would be fatal (Fig. 197). 

The whole space is 120 by 230 feet, a little over half 
an acre. All the fences should be 10 feet high, of i| inch 
mesh, No. 16 galvanized wire, as a Kit, that is a weanling 
in his first summer, can go through a 3-inch mesh, and 
a full-grown Fox can squeeze out of a 4 by 4. The netting 
should go 3 feet below ground, or down to hard-pan, and 
would be still safer with a turn in of 18 inches at the bottom, 
although a line of flat stones laid with the fence, inside, is 
usually enough to prevent any digging out. At the top it 
should have an overhang of 18 inches. This is simply the 
ordinary mesh wire supported on crosspieces nailed to the 

The outer lane is 15 feet wide, that is, wide enough for a 
wagon, but it can be reduced to barrow width, if space is an 
object. In each of two corners is a kennel for a watch-dog 
that patrols the lane; for among the plagues of the fox-farmer 
are the sneak thief and the malicious neighbour, who might 
open the gate by night and thus cause the loss of all the stock. 
At each of the other corners is a long refuge box with a 5 by 9 
inch hole at each end. In these any Fox getting out of his pen 
will take refuge from the dog and remain till put back where he 

The small cages are designed each for a breeding female. 
If more than 5 were on hand, these cages might be halved 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

without serious cramping. All their doors are 2 by 4 feet, and 
open on the central alley. Their sill sides should be raised a 
foot to allow for snow. 

In each, at its driest point, a hole about 3 feet wide 
and 2 feet deep should be dug and roofed over with some- 


—0 n D — 

D D ' 

1 — c 

' ^ 


' Urcc 

linB Pen 














-^ ^\; \.V^aft 

'.^V- x^ s^ 



V 4 





V ^ 



Loose Range 
100x43 feet 


Loose Range 
100x43 feet 






n J 

b^ — 1 

-0 a — p 

Alliy :5 feet wide 
n n n _ 


Fig. 197 — A model Fox-yard. Scale 50 feet to one inch. 

thing to turn the rain. A 9-inch hole, angling down to this 
at one side, completes the den. In the Norton yards 
these dens were shingled, as it is very important to have 
the nursery well-drained and dry. No lining is needed. The 
mother Fox can add it at will, or leave it out, as she mostly 

The large cages are loose ranges for any or all that are not 
nursing mothers or very young. All open into the central 
lane, as an additional safeguard against escape. This lane 
is 4 feet wide. It is furnished with a movable alley-cage about 
5 J feet long by 2 feet wide and 4 high; it is made on the bias 
and provided with a drop door at each end. Both top and 
bottom should be of light boards, as sometimes one is floor, 

Prairie Red-fox 743 

sometimes the other. This is put across the lane from door 
to door when it is intended to change an animal from one 
cage to another. At A it is shown in position to allow of 
the Fox being driven from the pen. By this means a Fox 
can be transferred from any one pen to any other without 

Most beginners will ask themselves — or other competent food 
authority — what does the Fox feed on in a state of nature, and 
then decide that that is his proper food in captivity. Curiously, 
and happily, this decision is not backed by experience. Those 
who feed the Foxes on fat pullets, Rabbits, and Mice will soon 
find their charges a lot of worm-eaten dyspeptics. A much better 
answer is given by Norton and endorsed by Stevens, "Feed 
your Foxes the same as your dogs." Bread, table scraps and 
a very little meat, is their diet on the farms. Norton feeds 
butcher's scraps, offal of animals, and in the winter he often 
gives them the flesh of a horse, taking great care that it be not 
one that died of disease. 

Stevens feeds his chiefly a cake made of the following 
recipe: One quart sour milk, ij teaspoons of soda, enough 
corn-meal or "Daisy flour" to make it stiff, spread half an 
inch thick on pans, and bake. No sugar, salt, or eggs are 
needed. This will keep for two weeks, and is eagerly eaten 
by the Foxes. The young ones that I saw came running and 
shouldering like a lot of little pigs to get at it in the trough 
when the evening meal was announced by a familiar whistle. 
A piece 2 by 3 inches makes a meal, and they get two meals 
a day — morning and night. Each Fox also gets daily a pint 
of skim milk, and once a week about half a pound of raw 
meat. They are extremely partial to Woodchuck. One fat 
Woodchuck is enough to make a week's allowance for eight 

Norton occasionally shoots a crow and throws it in. The 
Foxes do not touch it for two or three days, then, as it gets gamy, 
they devour it with relish. Neither farmer has tried dog- 
biscuits. If a Fox secures more food than he can eat, he buries 


744 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

it till he is hungry, keeping a watch on the place lest any fellow 
captive should steal his hoard. 

Stevens has been in the business for two years; he has 20 
or 30 Foxes, and reports none lost at any time by disease. 

Norton has had five years' experience; he carries 30 to 
40 Foxes, and reports that one or two die each year from a 
disease that affects the head. It causes a running of the nose 
and fills the ears with scab. A careful comparison of their 
systems of diet shows that the Norton Foxes get more meat than 
the Stevens Foxes. 

BREED- In a state of nature the Fox is a monogamous animal; 

is believed to pair for life. In captivity the breeders en- 
courage polygamy, letting one very choice male serve several 
females. The embarrassingly high moral standard of the 
Fox is one of the difficulties of the breeder, but there is good 
reason to believe that human care and influence will under- 
mine their awkward scruples exactly as with the dog and 
other animals that have submitted to domestic life. I am 
told, on the other hand, that polyandry is bad. If a breed- 
ing female is allowed to join with two males in the same 
season, the result is said to be sterility. I do not know what 
this is grounded on. 

Over-fat animals do not breed. It is a great mistake to 
over-feed. In this we probably find one reason for the in- 
fecundity of Foxes in most menageries. An ordinary Fox 
weighs 8 or 9 pounds. The largest and fattest Norton ever 
had was i6| pounds. The breeders should be kept down 
to about 10 pounds. Stevens claims that of those that mate 
in his yard half are fertile; Norton claims only one-third. 
As also noted, Stevens feeds them less, but something may 
also be due to the fact that the Stevens farm is on a quiet hill- 
side in the country, while the Norton farm is in the busy town 
of Dover. 

The wild Foxes mate in late January or early February, 
the captives are four or five weeks later. When the timecomes 
the female utters her peculiar squeal and the male answers 




To illustrate especially the climbing propensities of the young. 
From photographs by E. T. Seton. 

Prairie Red-fox 745 

with a deeper, coarser bark. Both show a restlessness and a 
good deal of excitement. 

The period of gestation is 51 days without 12 hours' 
variation; of this I am assured by both breeders. 

The wild dog Fox is a model father and faithfully helps to 
provide for the young, but in captivity he is not needed, and 
it is best to keep the mother in the breeding pen by herself. 
The quieter she is the better. The young should not be 
approached, much less handled. Strangers should be for- 
bidden the range till the young are able to run. If disturbed 
or frightened the mother is liable to carry the young about in 
her mouth, seeking a safer place for them, till they are worried 
to death. 

The young number from 3 to 9; 6 or 7 are the usual litter. 
They are born blind; their eyes open about the seventh or 
eighth day. When they are a month old they begin to come 
out and play together like kittens. They are now considered 
past the critical period. They begin to eat solid food, and, 
when three months old, the mother weans them, and they may 
be taken away. At midsummer they are half grown, by 
winter apparently full grown, and in the following February or 
March, while yet less than a year old, they also breed. The 
young are much w'ilder than the old ones at first, but good 
management soon convinces them that all their fears are ill- 
founded, and they soon get tame and gentle. 

Foxes are much less quarrelsome than most carnivores. 
Norton has lost only 2 through fighting. Both were killed by 
an abnormally vicious old dog Fox that bullied the others. 
Such instances are rare, and a Fox of that temper should be 
considered a freak, and not allowed to breed. 

Every effort should be made to 'gentle' the Foxes. First, 
by selecting the most docile to breed from; second, by giving 
them no cause for alarm. 

Cleanliness is of the utmost importance. Clean drinking 
water and clean pens are essential. The Foxes are naturally 
clean. They do not bury their dung with cat-like scrupulous- 
ness, but they leave it at one end of the run. Stevens's pens, 

740 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

though smaller, have escaped all diseases because, he says, each 
year he digs over the soil to sweeten it. The pens must have 
shady places and sunny places for the varying weather. It is 
well also to caution the beginners against giving the Foxes a 
pile of new earth to dig in. This is sure to cave in and cause 

Fur is prime in November, but should be left until late 
December, as it continues to get fuller, and the fading process 
does not set in until the end of winter. The fur is improved 
by cold weather and by plenty of food in the fall, especially 
oily foods, such as fish heads, etc., and oil cake might prove 
effectual. Castration, to make a larger, finer robe, has not 
been tried. 

COST OF In getting stock the fox-farmer must remember that the 

STOCK farther north it comes from the better, and that the Gray-fox 

of Virginia and the South is not wanted at any price. The 

best way to get Foxes is by digging out the young in May and 


Wild Red-foxes can often be bought for one or two dollars 
each. The breeder gets $8 to $15 a pair for good cage-reared 
seasoned specimens of the common Red-fox. But we wish to 
raise Silver-foxes, not common Reds. As already stated, the 
Silver, Black, and Cross-foxes are mere colour freaks of the 
Red-fox. They are found wild in every shade and inter- 
grade. The ideal and inimitable Silver-fox is glossy jet 
black with a silvery tip to each of the long hairs, giving a 
frosted finish of exquisite beauty. A pair of Silver-foxes 
may produce a litter of Red-fox young. But these things 
run in families and a pair of Silvers or Blacks are almost 
sure to produce some of their own colour. By selecting the 
dark ones for breeding, the desired type can soon be fixed. 
In five generations, that is, five years, Norton tells me he 
found it possible to breed out all the 'Red' and have a strain 
of pure 'Silver-foxes.' From a pair of fairly good Blacks, 
valued at $50 each as pelts, he last year raised 7 perfect 
Silvers worth ;^200 each. 

Prairie Red-fox 747 

There are two sources of profit to the fur-breeder. First, 
the sale of fur; apparently this is his only one. The Winni- 
peg Commercial gives the following quotations for Fox pelts, 
March, 1904: 

Prime Common Red . . $1.50 to ^4.00 
" Cross . . . . $5.00 to $15.00 
" Silvers .... $50.00 to $200.00 

These may be considered as conservative figures. W. F. 
Sheard, the fur-dealer at Tacoma, tells me that he once sold 
three perfectly matched Silver-foxes for $1,200. A man, 
therefore, with an acre of ground "under Foxes" might raise 
20 to 40 Silvers a year with an average market value of $150 
each, i. e., $3,000 to $6,000 a year gross, and the expenses 
would be very low. 

How long the price would keep up to this high figure it is 
impossible to say, but it has kept up for over a hundred years 
and there is no present sign of decline, rather the contrary. 

My own impression is that twenty years from now there 
will be a great many fur-farmers furnishing first-class Silver- 
foxes, more than ever before were put on the market. This 
will eventually lower the prices, but it will be largely ofi^set by 
the increasing market, and it is safe to say that so beautiful a 
fur will always fetch a figure sufficient to make it remunerative 
to produce. 

The second profit of the dealer, and perhaps his best, is 
the sale of his fine stock to other breeders. A Fox whose pelt 
is valued at $100 is worth $300 as a breeder. Messrs. Norton 
and Stevens hold their breeders at: Reds, $15 per pair; 
Cross, $75 per pair; Silvers, $300 to $400 per pair, and even 
at that figure they tell me that they cannot keep pace with the 
demand. This would naturally decrease, but to judge from 
experience in other fine stock it is more permanent than it 
would seem. It will probably last quite long enough to enable 
the prudent to gather a very handsome return and perhaps a 
comfortable fortune. 

748 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

From this we can see that the Fox breeding does not differ 
essentially from the breeding of any other high-class stock. 
Judgment, economy, cleanliness, and thrift will make it a suc- 
cess. I am satisfied that any man who has made a success of 
hens can make a success of Foxes, with this advantage for the 
latter — a Fox requires no more space or care than a hen, but is 
worth twenty times as much, so gives a chance for returns 
twenty times as large. 

Gray-wolf, Buffalo-wolf or Buffalo-runner. 

Cams occidentalis Richardson. 

(L. Cants, a dog; occidentalis, of the west.) 

Canis occidentalis Richardson, 1829. F. B. A., Pt. I., p. 60. 
Type Locality. — Probably Plains of Saskatchewan. 

French Canadian, le Loup gris, la Louve grise. 

Cree, May-hee'-gan. 

Saut., My-in'-gan. 

OjiB., My-in'-gan, or Kit'-chi My-tn'-gan. 

Yankton Sioux, Song-toke-cha Tung-ka. 

Ogallala Sioux, Shunk'-ah Mah-nee'-tu. 

The genus Canis is composed of the true Dogs. _, ^^^^ 

have long, pointed muzzles, long legs, long bushy tails, and acters 
pointed ears; have 4 toes on each hind-foot, and 5 on each 
front, but the innermost of the 5 toes is very short and small, 
and raised so that it does not touch the ground; the claws are 
blunt and non-retractile. 

i he teeth: Inc. ^^-^; can. ; prem. ; mol. =42 

3-3 I -I 4-4 3-3 

Until the Wolf group is thoroughly reviewed by competent 
authority, with abundance of material, it is impossible to do 
more than guess at the name that properly belongs to the Wolf 
of the Manitoban prairies. 

The oldest name for the American Wolves appears to be 
Canis mexicanus of Linnaeus, 1766. Next of those tenable 



750 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

for the Gray-wolf probably is Cams occidetitalis of Richardson, 
1829. No special type locality was given, but the interior of 
the continent. 

For the present it seems well to apply this name to the 
big Gray-wolf, or Buffalo-wolf, of the plains. 

SIZE OF A good-sized male Gray-wolf that I caught in Colfax 

County, New Mexico, December 13, 1893, was 5 feet 2 inches 

(1,575 mm.) from nose-tip to tail- 

llll iiiiiiill|||IJII''' bone tip; of this, its tail was 16 

'•illl'lil I 11 I ll!(; inches (406 mm.); shoulders, 27 

''||||l|||lilllPilil'lli^ inches (686 mm.); girth of neck, 

,/ ''''. I'''' '' 18 inches (457 mm.); girth of chest, 

28^ inches (724 mm.); girth of 

forearm, 8J inches (209 mm.). Its 

''^^k'h weight was 102 pounds; other 

f"'\ ^1''' \ "'* males caught in the region weighed 

90 and 78 pounds. W. R. Hine 

weighed the Winnipeg Wolf (a 

male) at 104 pounds. 

/"^'yS^W T. p. James, of Clayton, New 

Mexico, assured me that in the 

fall of 1892 he killed a huge Wolf 

c"y°«°"" that turned a standard scales at 

150 pounds. This, however, is 

extreme, and the weights given above more nearly represent 

the normal male. 

SIZE OF A female taken at the same place, December 29, 1893, 

FEMALE ^^s^feety^ inches long (1,410 mm.); tail, 12 inches (305 mm.), 
but imperfect; hind-foot, 10 inches (254 mm.); height at 
shoulders, 25 inches (635 mm.); weight, 75 pounds. Another 
female weighed 80 pounds, and a third, a poor one, only 55 

COLOUR The skin of the first-mentioned male is now before me. 

It is, in general, a dull, yellowish-white, becoming nearly pure 

Gray-wolf 751 

white on cheeks, chest, and inside of hind-legs. The upper 
part of the muzzle, crown, and outer side of each limb and the 
entire plantar surface of each foot is tinged a clear pale sienna. 
On the backs of the ears the sienna is much deeper and 
stronger. Beginning on the muzzle between the eyes are 
many black-tipped hairs, which increase in length and num- 
ber and continue over head, upper neck, shoulder, and back 
to the basal third of the tail, where they end in a black spot 
an inch wide and two inches long. After this the tail hairs 
are faintly tipped brownish-black; the tail itself ending in 
a dark tip of blackish hairs, with a few white ones interspersed. 

The under-fur is brownish gray on the under parts, be- 
coming much darker on the limbs and much browner and 
darker on upper parts generally. 

The dark spot on the tail near its base is formed by a 
curious tuft of black-tipped hairs, below which there is no 
wool or under-fur, but evidently a skin odour-gland. 

The claws are dark horn-colour. 

Compared with a number of Coyote skins taken at the 
same place, there is no absolute difference. The Coyotes 
are more strongly tinged with sienna above, and more nearly 
pure white below. Also, their under-fur on the back is a rich 
brown instead of dark gray-brown. But they have the tail- 
gland, and there is little but size to distinguish them when 

The above colour description of the Gray-wolf agrees 
exactly with Merriam's colour description of the Coyote quoted 
on pages 790-791. So far as can be told from outside charac- 
ters, the Winnipeg Wolf killed near Winnipeg (see later) was 
a gray Buffalo-wolf. But E. W. Darbey had 6 skins from 
Riding Mountain that are puzzling; i is pure white, 5 are 
nearly black, and yet all belong to one pack, probably one 
family; so that colour seems to count for little. 

The New Mexican specimen here detailed represents the 
prevalent colour. 

But individuals are found of any shade, from white to 
deep yellow and almost black. Its size, short tail, short, wide- 

752 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

spread ears, and pale, straw-coloured eyes are characteristic. 
Unfortunately for those who propose a friendly study of the 
living Wolf, the skull furnishes the most reliable means of 


RANGE The Wolf most common in Manitoba is probably the 

Gray-wolf or Buffalo-runner. But it seems likely that in the 
timbered country we have also the Timber-wolf or Cants 
nuhilus Say. At present it is impossible to decide any of these 
points with certainty. 

Map No. 42 shows what little is known of their ranges. It 
is quite possible that all these forms are races of two or even 
more species. The type localities are given for the principal 
forms that have been recognized. 

INDIVID- The home-region usually corresponds somewhat with the 

RANGE size of the animal. It is probable that the Wolf's home area 
is larger than that of any other of our non-migratory animals, 
because it is a large animal — therefore compelled to find much 
food — a flesh-eater, whose food supply is notoriously uncer- 
tain, and a swift-footed animal that can travel great distances. 
Dr. James R. Walker and others of Pine Ridge, S. Dak., 
told me that in 1902 an enormous white Wolf had been living 
around there for three years. It was usually seen within 15 
miles of Pine Ridge. 

In New Mexico, several Wolves were well known by their 
individual marks and believed to be permanent residents of 
a region about 30 miles across. In Dakota, near Medora, 
was a well-known Wolf, called Mountain Billy; he was so 
named because he was always found near a certain mountain 
called Sentinel Butte. This would limit his range to a radius 
of a dozen miles. 

An extraordinary story of Wolf endurance is related by 
Archbishop Tache, of St. Boniface, Man.' A large Wolf had 

'■ Esquisse sur le Nord-ouesl, dc V Ameriqne, 1901 (original edition, 1868), pp. 120-1. 

Canis occiJenlalis Richardson. 

U\^ Twf'J?"''," ?l,'"''^?™.' ^"'!'= °' H"°"''<^''8« '° ro^P the species, therefore I give : 
by the BUlogicarSu''A:e'?;co^eT,'ed1oTF^nl' b? F ' M^crapma"'' '""'"'■ '^'"^ " ^"*°"'^' " *= U""^'' ^'^'^^ ">^ "^P^ -"""v P'-W'^'-ed 

Mexico I'LI^l Xmalr O^^talivTereTerf Woivf n^^IlT"' ■"'* .vpe locality i^licated wherSot. Concerning distribution in 
South-west. ""D-n'on. unginally there were Wolves in all the region east of the Rockies, but never, apparently, in the blank area of the 



754 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

escaped with a steel trap and clog on its foot, at Isle a la 
Crosse, one winter. A month afterwards it was killed near 
Green Lake, 90 miles distant, still dragging the trap. This 
is evidence of a very wide range. 

It is the opinion of all hunters that I have consulted 
that the summer range of a Gray-wolf is less than 50 miles 
across. In winter, however, it may be doubled by the scarcity 
of food, but at all times there is a region that it recognizes as 

Unlike the Deer, the Wolf, so far as known, does not have 
two home-regions, one for summer and another, entirely dis- 
tinct, to which it migrates for the winter; in other words, the 
Gray-wolf is a wide ranger, but non-migratory. 

ABUN- In the early days when the Buffalo swarmed on the Red 

and Assiniboine Rivers, there were hundreds, possibly thou- 
sands, of Gray-wolves in Manitoba. Henry writes,- October 
4, 1799 [Junction of Park and Red Rivers], "Wolves are 
very numerous. They go in large droves and keep up a terri- 
ble howling day and night," and his fur reports of the region 
give: 1 800- 1, 204 Wolf skins; the following years they num- 
bered, 256, 801, 360, 690, 862, 420, and 68. These included 
both Gray- and Prairie-wolves or Coyotes, probably equally 
divided, and most were from Pembina Hills. But the Gray- 
wolves disappeared with the Buffalo. In the late 70's and 
early 8o's the species was almost unknown on our prairies, 
and the few left were undoubtedly brought in through following 
the cart trains with loads of meat from the Plains each year. 
The introduction of cattle, however, has caused them to 
increase again, and now a few are found in most parts of our 
country. About a dozen were killed annually within our limits 
during the late 8o's; since then the destruction has increased, 
but so have the Wolves, and 1 think it probable that we have 
from 50 to 100 pairs of Gray-wolves in Manitoba to-day. 
Nevertheless, it is well to remember that ascertained figures 
are usually far in excess of the estimates when it is the question 

' Journal, 1897, P- "2. 

By E. T. Stton. That in the centre and the two toward the right-hand upper comer are Gray-wolves from the Buffalo Plains. 
The rest are from France. 

Gray-wolf 755 

of animal population. Vernon Bailey's recent investigations' 
in central Wyoming have shed much light on the habits and 
number of Wolves. In loo square miles of cattle country in 
Wind River, where Wolves are fairly numerous, he found in 
March, 1906, 20 breeding dens of Gray- wolves. 

The State of Wyoming has paid in eleven years for the 
killing of 20,819 Wolves. As a good third of those shot or 
poisoned are never found, we are safe to believe that 30,000 
Wolves have been killed in that time, or 2,600 each year, and 
yet these numbers are rather increasing, from which I should 
infer that there are between 5,000 and 10,000 Gray-wolves in 
Wyoming alone, and that they are in like proportion over all 
of the cattle country from the Gulf of Mexico to the Saskatche- 
wan. Taking the lower figures as safer, they would show a 
total of 500,000 Gray-wolves still roaming the West, although 
their numbers are unquestionably much less than in primitive 

The Wolves are the most sociable of beasts of prey. Not socia^ 
only do they gather in bands, but they arrange to render each 
other assistance, which is the most important test of socia- 
bility. The most Gray-wolves I ever saw in a band was 5. 
This was in northern New Mexico, January, 1894. The most 
I ever heard of in a band was 32 that were seen in the same 
region. These packs are apparently formed in winter only. 
I think, further, that this species is not gregarious in the sense 
that the Antelope and Wapiti are. The packs are probably 
temporary associations of personal acquaintances, for some 
temporary purpose, or passing reason, such as food-question 
or mating instinct. As soon as this is settled they scatter. 
No doubt these same individuals are ready to reunite as soon 
as a new occasion requires it, and would resent the presence 
of a total stranger. This I take to be true sociability. 

An instance in point was related to me by Gordon M. 
Wright, of Carberry, Man. During the winter of 1865 he was 
logging at Sturgeon Lake, Ont. One Sunday he and some 

' Forest Service Bull. 72, U. S. Dep. Agri., Wolves, 1907. 


756 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

companions strolled out on the ice of the lake to look at the 
logs there. They heard the hunting cry of Wolves, then a 
Deer (a female) darted from the woods to the open ice. Her 
sides were heaving, her tongue out, and her legs cut with the 
slight crust on the snow. Evidently she was hard pressed. 
She was coming towards them, but one of the men gave a 
shout which caused her to sheer off. A minute later six 
Timber-wolves appeared galloping on her trail, heads low, 
tails horizontal, and howling continuously. They were utter- 
ing their hunting cry, but as soon as they saw the Deer they 
broke into a louder, different note, left the trail, and made 
straight for her. Five of the Wolves were abreast and one that 
seemed much darker was behind. Within half a mile they 
overtook her and pulled her down, all seemed to seize her at 
once. For a few moments she bleated like a sheep in distress; 
after that the only sound was the snarling and crunching of the 
Wolves as they feasted. Within fifteen minutes nothing was 
left of the Deer but hair and some of the larger bones, and the 
Wolves fighting among themselves for even these. Then they 
scattered, each going a quarter of a mile or so, no two in the 
same direction, and those that remained in view curled up there 
on the open lake to sleep. This happened about ten o'clock in 
the morning within three hundred yards of several witnesses. 

MATING The mating season of Gray-wolves begins about the last 

week of January and may last into the first week of March, 
differing according to the region; the colder it is, the later. 

PAIRING Does the Gray-wolf pair ? This is so important in the 

natural history of monogamy that I give evidence at length. 

Ordinary dogs, we know, are promiscuous, but domes- 
ticity is notoriously bad for the morals of animals; here, there- 
fore, the argument of analogy would be unsafe. Dr. Woods 
Hutchinson, in an important article on "Animal Marriage,"* 
points out the promiscuity of the dog as anomalous and main- 
tains the superiority of monogamy as an institution. "A 

* Contcmporarj' Review, October, IQ04. 

Gray-wolf 757 

monogamous race," he says, "will, in the long run, defeat a 
polygamous," and then he claims that monogamy is the rule 
in all the higher animals. Hearne says^ of the Wolves in the 
Barren Grounds: "They couple in spring and generally keep 
in pairs all summer." 

Miles Spencer, an observant fur-trader, at Fort George, 
Hudson Bay, is thoroughly conversant with the Wolves of 
that region and maintains that the male assists the female in 
caring for the young." The Wolf hunters in New Mexico tell 
me that when they find a Wolf's den, two old ones are sure to be 
hovering about, and in January I saw there at least one case 
of a male being deeply devoted to a certain female. A good 
father is a good husband among animals. Bailey says:' 
"Men who have made a business of hunting Wolves for the 
bounty assert that they are usually able to shoot one or both 
of the old Wolves at the den by watching the trails, or hiding 
near the den early in the morning before the Wolves return from 
the night's round. These statements are fully corroborated 
by my own experience. While watching dens in Wyoming I 
could easily have shot the male who was doing sentinel duty; 
for although he watched from a high point, from which he 
could see a man long before being himself seen, still in his 
anxiety to decoy me away he often came within rifle range. 

" It is now positively known that Wolves always pair, at 
least for the breeding season." 

How long does this ideal condition last ? For that season life- 

r ,-r 5 LONG 

or tor lite : union 

Probably for life. I have several times seen a male and 
female Wolf together at a time when the sexual passion was 
dormant; and yet the male showed the female more attention 
than he would have done had she been simply a smaller male. 
This points to permanent partnership. 

' Journey, 1795, p. 362. 

"A. P. Low, Expl. James Bay, Can. Geol. Surv., 1888, App. Ill, p. 76 J. 

' Op. cit., Note 3, pp. 22-3. 

758 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In the London Zoo, at present (December, 1904),' is a 
pair of Wolves, officially called 'Lobo' and 'Blanca.' The 
male is from western Texas, the female from Arizona; they 
are good, typical examples of the Gray- or Buffalo-wolf of those 
high plains. 

They have been there for three years and are supposed 
to be five years old. They bred last year, producing 9 cubs, 
and this year 8. The father has always been kept away from 
the young, so it is not known whether he has any parental 

These two old Wolves live in harmony except when the 
keepers come to the cage; both are fond of being noticed, and 
eager to monopolize all attention; each strives jealously to be 
next the bars, pushing the other away, barking and growling 
meanwhile, with bristling mane and evident temper. 

Lobo often springs at his mate as though to bite her, but is 
always restrained at the last moment by something. What is it, 
if not a feeling akin to chivalry ? 

In these quarrels, if Blanca sees that she has gone too far, 
she apologizes by licking Lobo's face in a conciliatory manner, 
always effectual. 

The fact that the male shows chivalrous feeling, and that 
the pair continue as mates in the autumn and winter, when the 
sexual instinct is dormant, are partial evidences that Wolves 
pair for life. 

D. A. Thornbury, Superintendent of Schools, Grinnell, 
Iowa, writes me thus: 

"In the latter part of October or early November, 1886, 
in Mitchell County, Iowa, while we were hulling corn, my 
brother and myself saw two Gray-wolves come out of the woods. 
One of them was carrying a dead Cottontail in his mouth. 
They passed within fifty yards of us, and watched us as they 
passed. They seemed to know that we had no gun." 

The fact that two Gray-wolves unhungry should be travel- 
ling together in fall shows a friendly alliance most easily ex- 
plained by a life attachment between the pair. 

'In 1909 this same relationship continues. 

Gray-wolf 759 

There is, however, some evidence for the other view. 
The Alaskan sled-dogs are known to be domesticated Wolves; 
all are much mixed with wild Wolf blood, some even are Wolves 
captured when young. Captain Dick Craine, who spent nine 
years among them, owning and handling in that time about 
200, tells me that he has several times known a pair of half- 
wolf train-dogs to mate and remain together as mates until the 
pups were well grown, after which they parted. Two very 
marked cases happened at the same time. In these the father 
took an interest in the pups and the mother allowed him to 
approach them, but warned all others away. He never saw 
the father feed the pups, but the mother often did so by dis- 

From these cases he infers that the Wolves mate for one 
season but not for life. 

Dr. Woods Hutchinson, in his paper on "Animal Mar- 
riage," says:" 

"There is a general impression among field-naturalists 
and trappers that many of these animals, having once paired, 
come together again in the succeeding seasons, although they 
may be widely separated during the intervening part of the 
year. Indeed, some of them positively declare that the union 
among Wolves, Foxes, Panthers, Lions, and Seals, is practically 
for life. In a few species, however, does it terminate until the 
expiration of the period required for the young to become able 
to shift for themselves. In some of these, like certain Wolves, 
the father practically disappears during the nest period of the 
young, but joins the family again when the cubs are able to 

A degree of this latter custom is seen in Foxes, Coyotes, 
and several other carnivores. It seems that in all these crea- 
tures there is a deep-laid instinct to leave the mother quite alone 
during parturition, and until the young are some days, or in 
some cases weeks, old, after which the father is allowed to join 
the family. This, it will be remembered, is closely paralleled 
by the practice of many tribes of human savages. 

' See Note 4. 

760 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

As a general argument, mating customs are so deeply 
rooted as to be very uniform in a given family; thus all the 
true pigeons pair, all the true Deer are polygamous; and every 
evidence, direct or collateral, I can find on any of the true Dogs, 
except the case of the Alaskan team dogs (in domestication), 
points to perfect and permanent monogamy as the rule. 

The nursery den is either a natural cave, a hollow log or 
stump, or a hole in the ground, dug out by the parents them- 
selves. Sometimes they enlarge a Badger hole, and in any 
case the bed is not far from the entrance. 

The Gray-wolf apparently does not line its nest. Roland 
D. Carson, of the Philadelphia Zoo, writes me concerning those 
that bred in the gardens: 

"The females dug a hole in the earth but made no attempt 
at lining the nests, and when hay and other materials were put 
in it to form a bed they were promptly thrown out." 

As the lining habit is instinctive in the kinds that practice 
it, we note with interest that many animals are tormented with 
parasites which harbour and breed among the nest material, 
so that lining is a dangerous comfort. 

GESTA- According to all observers the period of gestation is 63 

days in the Gray-wolf, as in most, if not all, of the true Dogs. 

The young number 3 to 13, but are usually 6 or 7. When 
born they are blind and almost naked, and, like young dogs, 
their eyes are not opened until the ninth day. Carson says that 
the only litter of the Wolf pups that he was able to watch closely 
"did not get their eyes opened till the thirteenth day." Pos- 
sibly these were prematurely born. 

W. H. Blackburn reports that he has watched several litters 
in the National Zoo at Washington and found their eyes opened 
a little on the seventh day and fully opened on the ninth. Lit- 
ters have been born there on March 23, 27, 29, and April 4. 

Those in the London Zoo (parents from Texas) were 
born March 28; all the four litters bred in the Philadelphia 



LUe studies by E. T. Seton. 

Gray-wolf 761 

Zoo were born in March and Aj)ril, the earhcst March i8, the 
latest April 19. Even in the Red River Valley they are born 
about the same time, as the following from Henry's Journal 

[Park River Post on Red River] "April 7, 1801. One of 
my men brought in 3 Wolves of this year which he had 
found in a hole in the ground; they sometimes have their 
young in a hollow log or stump. * * * Another of my 
men brought in 6 young Wolves he had found in one hole." 

"Shortly after birth and long before their eyes were open matkk- 
the mother-wolf [in the Philadelphia Zoo] would come to the f^-^ 
front of the enclosure with one of her pups in her mouth, some- ^^inct 
times returning for another one or two, but all were never 
brought out at one time; one was carried about for a while 
and then returned. This was generally done when the keeper 
was in the back passage or adjoining cage. Nervousness 
from fear of harm to her babies seems, in most cases at least, 
to have been the cause of this habit." 

The maternal instincts of the she-wolf are of a high order. 
Carson, above c]uoted, remarks: 

"We have no instance of a Gray-wolf killing or eating her 
young, but Prairie-wolves in our Zoo have not only killed their 
young, but eaten them when they have died from other causes." 

When I was at Sidney, Ohio, March, 1902, I met an old 
hunter who related a curious and interesting story that illus- 
trates the motherliness of the she-wolf. About twenty years 
before, when he lived in Wisconsin, a bounty of ten dollars 
each was put on Gray-wolves, and he spent a good deal of 
time hunting them. One day he saw a Wolf come to the river 
to drink. He shot and killed it, then found that it was a 
female suckling young. He searched many days for the nest 
and could not find it. 

Two weeks later he shot another female Wolf coming out 
of a hollow log. She also was suckling young. He crawled 
into the log and found 13 Wolf pups of two different sizes — 

'"Journal, 1897, pp. 174-5- 

762 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

6 very small ones, 7 much larger. She had but 6 teats in 
commission, so he concluded that this she-wolf had rescued 
the young of the first female he had shot. 

GROWTH The young ones of the Philadelphia Zoo would whine like 

YOUNG puppies as soon as they were born, and the mother would an- 
swer and call them in the same manner. 

As soon as they could see they began to play together like 
the young of the domestic dog. 

At from three to four weeks, according to their vigour, all 
would come out daily, never at night, and sit or play in the sun 
about the door of the den, but were ever ready to skurry in 
again at the slightest alarm. According to Lee Hampleman, 
my Rocky Mountain guide, the young ones in Colorado first 
began to follow the mother for short distances from the den 
in June when they were about three months old. 

FEEDING The question how they are fed has been much discussed; 

and sifting down the evidence of many observers, it may be 
considered sure that they are simply suckled for about six 
weeks, during which time the father has little to do with them. 
Now the mother begins to disgorge solid food for them. Many 
observers say that they have watched closely but never saw 
anything of this. Carson, however, states positively and 

"At five or six weeks they began to eat the food disgorged 
for them by the mother, and later, when they wanted food of 
this kind, they would jump at her mouth, sometimes several at 
once, until she supplied them." 

The father soon becomes active, not disgorging, so far as 
we know, but bringing fresh game to the den. On this point 
D. A. Thornbury, Superintendent of Schools, Grinnell, Iowa, 
also writes me: "My father has many times found in the 
mouth of the hole in which he took some young Wolves, bodies 
of Rabbits and chickens, and in one instance he took from the 
hole the partly eaten body of a lamb." 

" In personal letter. 

Gray-wolf 763 

Of the above-mentioned brood of 8 young Wolves in the 
London Zoo, 4 were raised by a coUie foster-mother, and they 
became very tame as well as unusually fine specimens. The 
rest were left with the mother; 2 died. The others grew up, 
but were weaklings and very shy and wild. The collie was fed 
on dog-biscuit, the mother Wolf on raw meat, the only food she 
would touch. 

"After the collie-raised 4 were put in a paddock by them- 
selves they also grew wild and timid, except i, which for some 
unknown cause remained tractable and dog-like. This is a 
most interesting case of individual variation in temperament 
and suggests how breeds of domestic dogs have been brought 
to their present condition of tameness by breeding from stock 
artificially selected for that attribute." {R. I. Pocock in 

"One was sold to a member of the Society, who lives in 
the country, where the young Wolf has all the liberty of a dog. 
It follows a carriage, attends garden parties, and is a favourite 
with children. It is larger than either of its parents." {Dr. 
y. D. Drewitt in letter.) 

The following year Dr. Drewitt wrote me, June 25, 
1905: "Blanca has had another litter of puppies, and, as 
usual, those that were brought up by a collie wet-nurse were 
tame, and those which were nursed by the mother, wild. All 
the puppies had lead-coloured iris. 

Miles Spencer says'^ that the young are suckled for two 
months after birth, in the region about Hudson Bay. 

Carson, however, writes me: "It is probable they would 
nurse for five or six months, but as a rule we took them from 
the mother before they were entirely weaned. The weaning 
was very gradual, and towards the last the mother would snap 
when they attempted to suckle her." 

At this time the only enemies that the young Wolves have enemies 
to fear are eagles, man, insects, and disease. Eagles very often 
pick up the youngsters, as they play around the den door; man 

'= See Note 6. 

764 Life-liistorics of Northern Animals 

destroys the mother, ami (hf^s out the pujjs, if he can locate the 
den; parasites, insects, and (Hsease also are to be dreaded. 

llearne makes some remarks which show the Northern 
Indians and the Wolves on a very friendly footing. 

The Wolves, he says,"* "always burrow underground to 
bring forth their young; and though it is natural to suppose 
them very fierce at those times, yet I have frequently seen the 
Indians go to their dens and take out the young ones and play 
with them, i never knew a Northern Indian hurt one of 
them; on the contrary, they always put them carefully into 
the den again; and I have sometimes seen them paint the faces 
of the young Wolves with vermilion or red ochre." 

In August the young arc so far grown that they begin to fol- 
low the mother about in her hunting expeditions, and the den is 
abandoned, liy this time the doorway is littered with the bones, 
fur, and feathers of the game brought home by the |)arents. 

liiJucA- The education of the cubs now begins in earnest. The 

chief means is example. Whether consciously or not, on the 
part of the teacher or of the class, there can be no doubt that 
it is by seeing the mother do, or not do, that the little ones learn 
much that is neces.sary to their success in life. Thus she 
inspires them with terror of a trap, by showing her own terror 
of it; no matter whether conscious or unconscious, this is 
teaching. The same is true, I suppose, of all the ideas that 
modern Wolves have; ili;it is, the ideas so recent that they have 
not yet had time to become ingrained as instinct. 

"They are still pu|)py-like at one year, and hardly fidl 
grown until eighteen months old; even then they did not have 
the fully adult look. The females in the Philadelphia Zoo did 
not come in heat till they were two years old." {Carson.) 

I'his agrees with observations made on the Wolves in the 
London Zoo. It is likely, therefore, that the Gray-wolf is not 
mature until its third year, thenceforth the female breeds once 
each year while in vigour; that is, probably, till her ninth or 
tenth year. 

'"Jouriuy, lyvs, pp. 362-j. 


Gray-wolf TO.O 

The range of the Cray-wolf has a known history. When history 
the Buffalo swarmed over Western America from the Allegha- 
nies to the Rockies, and from Great Slave Lake to Central 
Mexico, their herds were followed by troops of Buffalo-wolves 
that preyed on the weak and helpless. As the Buffalo disaj)- 
peared the Wolves were harder put for a living. When the 
last great Buffalo herds were destroyed and the Wolves were 
left without their usual support, they naturally turned their 
attention to the cattle on the ranges. 

The ranchmen declared vigorous war against them: 
traps and poison were imported in vast (juantities, a bounty 
was offered for each Wolf scalp, and every inducement Ik Id 
out to wolf-hunters. 

In those days the Wolves were comparatively unsus|)i( ious, 
and it was easy to trap or poison them. The result was that 
enormous numbers were killed in the early days of iHHo to iHHH 
or 1889; so many, indeed, that the species seemed on the 
verge of extinction. The remnant of the race continued on the 
foothills of the Rockies or the Badlands, but they were so rare 
as to be no longer a factor in the cattle question. Then new 
knowledge, a better comprehension of the modern dangers, 
seemed to spread among the Wolves. They learned how to 
detect and defy the traps and poison, and in some way the 
knowledge was passed from one to another, till all Wolves 
were fully possessed of the information. How this is done is 
not easy to say. It is easier to prove that it is done, lew 
Wolves ever get into a trap, fewer still get into a trap and out 
again, and thus learn that a steel-trap is a thing to be feared. 
And yet all Wolves have that knowledge, as every trapper 
knows, and since they could not get it at hrst-hand, they must 
have got it second-hand; that is, the information was com- 
municated to them by others of their kind. 

It is well known among hunters that a piece of iron is 
enough to protect any carcass from the Wolves. If a Deer or 
Anteloj)e has been shot and is to be left out over night, all that 
is needed for its protection is an old horseshoe, a spur, or even 
any part of the hunter's dress. No wolf will go near such 

766 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

suspicious looking or human-tainted things; he will starve 
rather than approach the carcass so guarded. 

With poison, a similar change has come about. Strych- 
nine was considered infallible, when first it was introduced. 
It did vast destruction for a time, then the Wolves seemed to 
discover the danger associated with that particular smell, and 
will no longer take the poisoned bait, as I know from number- 
less experiences. 

It is thoroughly well known among the cattle men now 
that the only chance of poisoning Wolves is in the late summer 
and early autumn, when the young are beginning to run with 
the mother. She cannot watch over all of them, the whole 
time, and there is a chance of some of them finding the bait 
and taking it before they have been taught to let that sort of 
smell-thing alone. 

The result is that the Wolves are on the increase, have 
been, indeed, since the late 8o's. They have returned to 
many of their old hunting-grounds in the cattle countries, and 
each year they seem to be more numerous and more widely 
spread, thanks to their mastery of the new problems forced 
upon them by civilization. 

The Gray-wolf is one of the shyest of wild animals. I 
have talked with men who have lived their whole lives in 
regions where Gray-wolves were far from rare, and yet they 
have never seen one. They hear them at night, they see their 
trails and their work in the morning, but never see the animals 
themselves until after they have been trapped or poisoned. 
Their extreme shyness is partly a modern development, as 
also is the respect for man, which now fully possesses every 
Gray-wolf in the cattle country. There are many records that 
show the Wolf to have been a continual danger to mankind in 
the bow-and-arrow days. There can be no doubt that then 
man was considered a fair prey, a difficult and wide-awake one, 
no doubt, but still a creature to be eaten in times of scarcity. 
Consequently, each winter in America, as in Europe, a number 
of human beings were killed and devoured by hungr}' Wolves. 

Gray-wolf 767 

During the last twenty years, however, I cannot find a never 
reliable instance of Western Wolves, or especially Manitoba man^^'^ 
Wolves, killing or even attacking human beings. 

The following, related by George Fraser, of Winnipeg, 
aptly illustrates the disposition of Wolves to-day: In 1886, 
he was travelling near Whitewater Lake, in southern Manitoba. 
He came on a Swede who was drawing a long box wagon in 
which were three or four quarters of beef. Sometimes on the 
load and sometimes running around were two large Gray- 
wolves, feeding on the beef in spite of the Swede's efforts to 
keep them off with a pitchfork. The driver and the Wolves 
dodged around the wagon for some time before the man heard 
Eraser's shouts to stand aside; when he did, Fraser shot 
both Wolves. The Swede said these two had been a pest for 
some time, killing his sheep and one colt. They had never 
offered violence to man. 

I have seen many recent newspaper clippings that re- 
corded harrowing tales of men, women and children devoured 
by grewsome packs, but each and all have crumbled into 
newspaper stories when fully investigated. The question then 
arises, are the old records wrong, or are the modern Wolves of 
different species ? The answer is, the modern Wolves are the 
same as the old ones, except in one particular, viz., that they 
have been educated by fear to let man alone. Man with the 
modern gun is a different creature from man with the bow 
and arrow. The Wolves have learned this, and are now 
no more a menace to human life than are the Prairie-wolves 
or Coyotes. Not only do they abstain from harming man, 
but they have learned that they are likely to be harmed by 
him, unless they keep out of sight in the daytime. This, I 
think, is why Wolves are so rarely seen, even when com- 
paratively common. 

In accounting for these changes it is not necessary to at- 
tribute human intelligence to this animal. Evidently much 
hard luck and many unpleasant surprises have engendered in 
it a deep and general distrust of all strange things, as well as 

768 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

a well-founded fear of anything that bears the taint of a human 
being. This distrust, combined with its exquisite sense of 
smell, may explain much that looks like profound sagacity 
in this animal. Nevertheless, this will not explain all, as 
I have had very good reason to remark again and again, 
when I have endeavoured to trap or poison Wolves on the 
cattle ranges. 

And even ascribing much to mere shyness does not 
remove it from the sphere of intelligence, though doubtless 
ranking it lower in that department, making it a vague fear 
of the unknown, in place of a dread of danger well compre- 

One of the most curious instances, I find, is given by 
B. R. Ross. The evidence is purely circumstantial and not 
complete at that, but Ross was a good naturalist and evidently 
believed the case proven: 

"In the month of May," he says,'* "when the holes cut 
in the ice do not freeze up, the fisherman at Fort Resolution 
on visiting his trout lines, set at some distance from the Fort, 
discovered that several had been visited; the lines and hooks 
were lying on the ice, as well as the remains of a partly eaten 
trout, and a Wolf's track was observed about the place. The 
fact was the Wolf had hauled up the lines and helped himself 
to what fish he required. This occurred again and then ceased, 
the animal having been probably driven away by the dogs of 
the Post." 

The diet of this species includes every kind of animal 
food, that he can secure, from Mice to Moose. Through- 
out the summer Mice and such 'small deer' are doubtless 
the staples. The coming of winter makes a radical change. 
First, it puts the small game beyond reach; second, it robs 
the Moose and Deer of the safe refuge afforded by the lakes 
and rivers, and thus brings these great ruminants into the 
dietary of the Wolves. 

" Fur-bearing .Anim., Mack, R., Can. Nat., Januar}-, 1861, p. 10. 

Gray-wolf 769 

Writing of the northern species, R. MacFarlane says:'' moose- 
" These Wolves yearly succeed in kiUing as prey quite a "^'^^^^ 
large number of Reindeer and not a few Moose. On one 
occasion, while travelling upon the ice between Forts Liard 
and Nelson, in the Mackenzie River District, we came across 
a big patch of hard-packed snow on the Liard River where a 
large buck Moose had evidently been surrounded and no doubt 
overpowered, after a most gallant fight for life, by perhaps a 
score of ferocious and cowardly Wolves. A few well-picked 
bones and the skull were the only relics left. At a short dis- 
tance, however, we perceived a full-grown Gray-wolf, which 
was at once shot. It had one of its hind-legs shattered by a 
kick from the Moose, which so disabled it that it could scarcely 
crawl. Had its companions not been fully gorged, they would 
doubtless have fallen upon and eaten it, too." 

The havoc wrought by Wolves during winter among the 
Whitetailed Deer is well known, but at all times they prefer 
an easier prey, the easier the better; even carrion is always 
acceptable food, and I have several times heard of Wolves hard 
pressed in winter, filling their bellies with horse dung gathered 
on the highway. 

The habit of burying surplus food seems to be common to stor- 
all the Wolf tribe. Roland D. Carson writes me of the Wolves 
in the Philadelphia Zoo: "Our males and females often bury 
surplus food, but the females have not been observed to do so 
more than usual just previous to the birth of the young." 

Captain Craine's half-wolf train-dogs, if not hungry, 
would bury their food, and water on the place or even on the 
food. This latter performance is explained in the Wolverine 

These train-dogs aff^ord much light on the ways of their prop- 
wild kinsmen. One of them will watch his cache all day and in- 
in its defence fearlessly attack another that ordinarily he was 
afraid of. The big dog rarely presses the point under these 

" Mam. N. W. Ten, Proc. U. S. N. M., 1905, p. 692. 

770 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

circumstances, but acts as though he knew his cause was weak. 
This beginning of property law is of cardinal interest. 

These hoards may be of vital service to the Wolf, but the 
instinct, as at present developed, is very crude, and scarcely 
to be compared with the fine providence of Beaver and Squirrel. 

Wolves, as well as dogs, have a singular habit of rolling 
in carrion, or 'doping,' as it is called. They seem delighted 
with the opportunity of making themselves reek with stench of 
the foulest flesh or fish they can find. Although the dogs are 
without the personal nicety of cats, they do have some habits of 
cleanliness, and spend a certain amount of time in dressing 
the fur. Who has not seen a dog bite the burrs out of his coat, 
or the ice balls from his legs? A dog or a Wolf which is 
wounded or bleeding will take the trouble to remove the stains 
from his fur, and the mystery of his rolling in carrion is unex- 
plained. It cannot be a pleasant smell to him, one would 
think, because oftentimes it is stuff he will not eat. 

The suggestion that it is based on the sexual instinct does 
not seem to hold, as female dogs, as well as males, will do it 
at any time. I know of no satisfactory explanation. 

The usual cry of the Wolf is a long smooth howl. It is 
quite musical, though decidedly eerie when heard in the woods 
at night. I cannot distinguish it from the howl of a large dog. 
Its beginning is also much like the hoot of a horned owl. 
This is usually the 'muster' or 'rallying cry' — the intimation 
of the Wolf to his friends that he has found game too strong 
for him to manage alone. It is the call usually heard at night 
about the settlers' huts. A second sound is a higher pitched 
howl, vibrating on two notes. This may be styled the ' hunting 
song'; it corresponds exactly with the full cry of a pack of 
hounds on the hot scent. A third is a combination of a short 
bark and a howl. It seems to mean the 'closing in' for a 
finish. There are several others that I have often heard, but 
cannot comprehend. Some of my hunting friends claim that 
they can discriminate the calls of the she-wolf to her mate and 

Gray-wolf 771 

her young; the call of the young to their mothers, etc. I doubt 
not these signals are used, just as surely as dogs use corre- 
sponding sounds among themselves, but I have not been able 
to distinguish them. The whining used by the young while 
still in the nest has already been spoken of, as well as the 
mother's similar response. 

Besides these sounds as a means of intercommunication, inter- 
Wolves use example as already set forth, and scents. mc™^ 

The scent method of communicating ideas I made the ^^°'"^ 
subject of an article in Forest and Stream, January 23, 1897. 
I reproduce the substance of it here. 

It is well known that not only each species of animal but smell- 
that each individual has its own peculiar smell, conclusive 
evidence of which is found in the fact that a good dog has no 
difficulty in following his master through a crowd, or keeping 
to the track of the animal he is hunting, though it be crossed by 
the tracks of many others. 

It is further known that, even though it always retain its 
individuality, this personal odour varies with the condition 
of the animal. Thus a horse smells strong after exercise; 
Canada grouse and Snow-shoe Hares smell of spruce or cedar 
when they feed on these; a Mink smells differently when 
angry; dogs in ill-health become malodorous; Deer in rut 
become offensively strong-smelling; a female animal in rut is 
recognized afar by the scent. 

In many species additional effect is given to the body odour- 
scent by the development of special glands which secrete a 
strong odour. These glands are usually situated in a part 
which is habitually brought in contact with the ground or the 
vegetation. Thus, in a Musk-deer they are on the side of the 
belly; in the Peccary, on the back; in our common Deer on 
the tarsus, between the toes, and in the lachrymal fossa. In 
some animals, however, the contact with the ground is secured 
in a different way. The glands are situated within the anal 


772 Lifc-historics of Northern Animals 

and preputial orifices, so tliat the natural excretions in transitu 
hear with tliem the taint which reveals so much to the next 
passer-hy of tiu' same species. 

WOLF In order thai this second animal may fmd the depot of 

intelligence cjuickly, it is necessary that his discovery of the 
place be not left to chance; and, incredible as it may seem at 
first sif^ht, there is abundant proof that the whole of a region 
iidiabited by Wolves is laid out in signal stations or intelligence 
depots. Usually there is one at each mile or less, varying 
much with the nature of the ground. The marks of these 
depots, or odour-jjosts, are various; a stone, a tree, a bush, a 
Buffalo skull, a post, a mound, or any similar object serves, 
provided only that it is cons|)icuous on account of its colour 
or |)<)sition; usually it is more or less isolated, or else promi- 
nent by being at the crossing of two trails. 

Now, a man returning to town goes at once to his hotel or 
club, glances o\c\ the last three or four names on the register, 
adds his own, ilun makes a more thorough inspection. And 
the behaviour of an animal arrived at an odour-post is precisely 
the same. It approaches, hastily snifls the post, adds its own 
odour, then makes a nioie thorough investigation. The atten- 
tion that dogs pay to lam[)-posis in town is precisely the same 
habit, a trille over-developed through idleness, etc., but it will 
serve to illustrate. I have many times seen a dog apjiroach 
the post, sniff, then growl, register, growl again, and, with 
bristling mane and glowing eyes, scratch fiercely with his hind- 
teet, and walk oil very stiflly, glancing back from time to time. 
Again, it is common to see a dog, after the preliminaries, be- 
come keenly interested, trot about the vicinity, and come back 
again and again to make his own record more evident. At 
other times one sees the animal, suddenly aroused by the news, 
take up a recent trail or fly to the next signal post, and so 
continue in |nirsuit of \\hate\er it was that was sensed. 

REGIS- Wohes do precisely the s.ime, but I believe tiiey carry it 

TERiNc. ^^^ ,^ higher |)iuli, and there can be no doubt that a newly 

Ci ray- wolf 773 

arrived Wolf is (juickly aware of the visit that has recently been 
paid to the signal post — by a personal friend or foe, by a 
female in search of a mate, a young or old, sick or well, hungry, 
hunted, or gorged beast. From the trail he learns further the 
direction whence it came and wliither it went. Ihus the main 
items of news essential to his life are obtained by the system 
of signal posts. 

The Wolf, as well as the dog, has further a habit of uri- kxpres- 


nating or defecating on certain things that appeal to his nose, ^""^ '"' 

without arousing his apjietite. He usually follows this action 
by vigorously scratching the dust with his hind-feet over 
and around the object defiled. This treatment is commonly 
accorded to poisoned baits as well as to traps. I am inclined 
to think that Wolves have been taken in some of my hidden 
traps while thus serving them with a Wolf's contempt, and 
heedlessly going too near while doing so. On other occasions, 
stones raked into the trap by this scratching have sj)rung them, 
and tluis they have been fully revealed. 

I am satisfied that scorn — that is, hate with superiority — 
is among the feelings thus expressed, for I once saw the victor 
in a fight between two female Coyotes urinate gleefully again 
and again on her fallen foe as she crouched in a corner of the 

A scent-gland that has long been overlooked is on the base expres- 
of the tail above; its exact place is marked by a dark spot on anger 
most of the dogs. In the Gray-wolf this spot is black, the 
hairs composing the spot are bristly, and there is no under- 
fur at the place. 

When a dog or Wolf, ready to do battle, approaches 
a stranger, the tail is raised at base and drooj)ed beyond, 
so that this gland is at the highest point and the hairs on 
it are raised. This doubtless allows the escape of more of 
this scent. 

In play, in battle, or in abject fear, there is no suggestion 
of this pose of tail. (See Plate LXV.) 





774 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

SOME Just as there arc jfcniuses and heroes among men, so 

there are wonderful individuals among Wolves. These have 
always interested me, and 1 have endeavoured to make records 
of their lives. One of the first of them that I met was the 
Winnipeg Wolf. In March, 1882, while coming to Winnipeg 
from St. Paul, 1 saw a sight that stirred my blood. As the 
train Hashed through an opening of the poplar woods south of 
St. Boniface, there stood a big Gray-wolf, erect and defiant, 
surrounded by a motley pack of town dogs, big and small. 
He was holding all at bay. A small dog was lying in the snow 
near him, and a big dog was bounding about doing some splen- 
did barking, but keeping his safe distance. The train passed 
and 1 saw no more. 

A dog-driver was killed next winter on the ice of the Red 
River while bound for Fort Alexander. The team were big 
fierce Huskies, and he was a strange driver. It was thought 
that he had struck at one of them with the whip, it had snapped 
back, and he, in retreating, had fallen, whereupon the four 
savage creatures had set on him and ended by devouring him. 
The counter theory was that he had been killed by a Wolf or 
Wolves, of which the dogs are notoriously afraid. The latter 
explanation found favour only with the dogs' owner, for the rea- 
son, people said, that he did not wish to lose his valuable team. 

A large Wolf was seen several times afterwards about the 
city, and at length was killed near the slaughter-house, some 
said, by poison, dogs, guns, or all three. This was a male and 
weighed 104 pounds. It was mounted by W. R. Hine, the 
taxidermist, and shown at the Chicago Exposition of 1893. 
This interesting relic was one of the valuable specimens lost 
in the IMulvey Grammar School when the building was 
destroyed by fire in i8i;6. 

1 ha\e, ot course, no evidence that in each case it was 
throughout the same Wolf, but in writing the story of "The 
Winnipeg Wolf" I took a w ritcr's liberty in making them so. 
The other adxentures ascribcil to him really belonged to other 
Wohes in distant regions. 

In the story ot " Lobo," I assumed a similar freedom. I as- 

I-Vnni photograph by E, T. Seton, 


Currumpaw, New Mexico, January 31, 1893. 

From a phot'^jgraph by E. T- Scton. 

Gray-wolf 775 

cribed to one Wolf the adventures of several, and I selected for 
him the most heroic exterior I could find in fact. But the final 
chapter recording his capture and death is given exactly as it 
happened, and was indeed the inspiring motive of the story. 

The following Wolves also became known by name in 
various parts of the Province of Manitoba: 

At Carberry, in 1897-8, a huge black Wolf appeared. 
He killed many sheep and calves and spread terror among the 
parents that had children going to school, but he never even 
threatened a human being. He was known as the Black 
Buffalo-runner. He was killed by Alexander Langmuir. 

Another, the Virden Wolf, was killed at that place after a 
short but exciting career, by F. S. Baird, February 20, 1898. 
The photograph of this shows it to have been an ordinary 
Gray-wolf of medium size. 

While at Pine Ridge, S. Dak., in August, 1902, I was 
told by Dr. James R. Walker and many others, that during 
the past three years the country between here and the Bad- 
lands (15 miles) had been frequented by an enormous white 
Wolf. The Wolves, in this region, were increasing and becom- 
ing so troublesome that a twenty-five dollar bounty was paid for 
each scalp, but double was offered for that of the white Wolf. 
It was a female, as it was once seen with seven cubs. One of 
them was caught and staked out for a decoy, but the mother 
came by night, eluded the watchers, pulled up the stake, and 
bore ofT her offspring in triumph. She is flourishing yet. 

It is often said that Wolves are cowards, but this sweeping cour- 
statement seems not well-founded. They never voluntarily wolves 
attack mankind, for the fear of man has been widely spread 
among them; yet a Wolf will attack and kill almost any dog. 
A Wolf has often been known to face a whole pack of dogs and 
carry off one of them in spite of the others about. 

Richardson says:'" "During our residence at Cumberland 
House, in 1820, a Wolf, which had been prowling, and was 
wounded by a musket ball and driven off, returned after 

'" F. B. A., 1829, 1, p. 64. 

776 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

it became dark, whilst the blood was still flowing from its 
wound, and carried off a dog, from amongst fifty others, that 
howled piteously, but had not courage to unite in an attack on 
their enemy." 

A full-grown Wolf will indeed fight any number of dogs 
in self-defence, and will die without a thought of surrender. 
This is not cowardice. 

Nevertheless, individuals vary so much, in this highly 
specialized animal, that we may expect to find some that are 
downright cowards, as well as others of heroic bravery. The 
one described by Richardson may have been a noted desperado 
of his tribe. 

Exceptions to the rule may be accounted for precisely as 
in man; bodily well-being is an essential of physical courage. 
Richardson says'^ of the Barren-ground Wolves: 

"When reduced by famine they are very abject and unre- 
sisting. Mr. Bell once, while residing on Mackenzie's River, 
caught a full-grown, but famished Wolf in a marten-trap tied 
to a small log which it had not the strength to carry away. 
He went to the Fort for a line to lead it home, and the children 
who accompanied him back assisted in bringing it in by pushing 
it on from behind. It made no resistance and suffered itself 
to be tied quietly to the stockades of the Fort. The experiment 
of taming it was not, however, made, and after the curiosity 
of the people was satisfied it was killed." 

Chivalry in its simplest aspect may be defined as considera- 
tion by a male for a female, on account of her sex, when the 
sexual passion is dormant. In this light it is fair to say that 
there is much chivalry among Wolves. Richardson records 
many instances of such kindly consideration; indeed, I have 
heard the question raised as to whether male dogs or Wolves 
will at any time attack female dogs or Wolves, and vice versa. 
I have no personal evidence to give that they will attack, but 
I have some evidence to show that they will refrain from attack- 
ing. A case has already been noticed in the chapter on pairing. 

"Arc. Search Exped. (of 1S48), 1851, Vol. II, p. 87. 


778 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

SPEED The speed of the Wolf is often exaggerated. My im- 

pression is that 21 or 22 miles an hour would represent the 
highest rate of an average individual for one mile. This is 
much less than the speed of the Coyote, Jack-rabbit, Deer, 
Antelope, greyhound, or even foxhound; but the Wolf can 
keep it up longer than most animals. A comparative scale is 
given on page 233. 

TRACK The track of a Wolf cannot be distinguished with cer- 

tainty from that of a large dog. (See Fig. 199.) 

STRENGTH Although we must be cautious about receiving accounts 
of the Gray-wolf's ferocity, we are sure to be surprised by 
facts about its strength. I have known a young Gray-wolf, 
scarcely six months old, drag off a 100-pound bar of iron, to 
which it was chained, taking it 200 or 300 yards without stop- 
ping, and a quarter of a mile before discovered. This same 
cub could almost hold its own against an ordinary man pulling 
at its chain. I have several times seen a Gray-wolf in a trap 
go off with a drag that weighed considerably over 100 pounds; 
and on one occasion I saw an 80-pound female that was 
trapped drag a 52-pound beef-head over rough ground faster 
than I could follow on foot, and keep up the flight for one and 
a half miles. 

I have known a Gray-wolf go off carrying the head of an 
ox in his jaws, and take it so far that I gave up following his 
trail in the dust. I did not weigh the ox-head, but found that 
a small cow-head weighed over 50 pounds, so that it must have 
been at least 75 pounds. 

The Wolf's great strength, indeed, is in his jaws. It is 
doubtful whether any dog, of truly domesticated race, has such 
powerful jaws as the Wolf. It is generally believed by the 
hunters that for this reason no dog has yet been found which, 
single-handed, could conquer a full-grown Gray-wolf. 

The rope used for lassoes on the Plains is half-inch 
manilla, and yet has often been cut through by a single clip 
of the Wolf's jaws when he has been lassoed. 

Wolf studv hv E. T. Seton. 

Gray-wolf 779 

The Hon. Theodore Roosevelt gives thus an instance" 
of a Gray-wolf killing a horse. "With a few savage snaps 
the Wolf hamstrung and partially disembowelled it." Many 
similar cases could be cited. 

The strength of its jaws is, doubtless, a cardinal factor in 
the Wolf's life-problems, not only putting it beyond danger 
from other carnivora, but also leaving all herbivora at its 

Doubtless its hold on environment is largely due also to 
endurance. A Wolf can live on one full meal a week; that is, 
a dozen meals at equal intervals would carry it through the 

The Wolf that Archbishop Tache tells of" roamed for a 
month in deep winter, at Isle a la Crosse, with a heavy trap 
and clog on his hind-foot. It is hard to see how he could have 
got a meal in all that time, and, though emaciated, he was very 
lively indeed when found. 

The species is credited by most hunters with cunning 
enough to hunt by combined drive and ambush, exactly as 
described in the chapter on the Coyote, but this I have not 
personally witnessed. 

The Wolf of Ontario is known to be a good swimmer, swim- 

. . MI.N'G 

W. Lewis Fraser once described to me the antics of a family 
of Gray-wolves that he saw playing in the water like a lot of 
water spaniels. This was in Muskoka, during the month of 
September, and they therefore were probably a family. 

The dogs, and especially train-dogs, howl much on moon- social 
light nights in winter, and in a less degree at other seasons, ments 
They do not sit around in a circle as has been stated, nor have 
any accompanying ceremonies been seen. They howl usually 
when some loud noise or one of themselves begins it. These 
remarks apply in a measure to Wolves. Unless this nightly 
chorus belongs to the class, I do not know of any social amuse- 
ments among these animals. A hint, however, is supplied by 

"Wilderness Hunter, 1S97, P- 394- " See Note i. 

780 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

a Saxon name still used in Teesdale, England. A certain place 
there is called "Wolf Lake," although there is not, and never 
has been, any water near, but my friend, James Backhouse, 
informs me that it was originally "Wolf lek," that is, the place 
where the Wolves were supposed to play. (Anglo-Saxon, 
laeken, to lark or play.) 

sANiTA- In sanitation Wolves have the habits of ordinary dogs. 

They do not bury their dung, but they keep their dens clear of it. 


HYBRID- The Eskimo or Husky dog is understood to be simply a 

domesticated Wolf, mixed with a strain of some other dog 
stock. The readiness of the Wolf and the Husky dog to cross 
is noted by all writers on the subject. Henry, in his famous 
"Journal on Red River,"-" refers to this as a regular thing and 
gives a very graphic account of the way in which the female 
dogs were unwittingly made to play Delilah and betray the 
he-wolves into the merciless hands of their human enemies. 

A similar account is given by Richardson for the female 
Wolves about Cumberland House."' 

Two large dogs, supposed to be the offspring of a Wolf 
and a Husky, lived about Kildonan, Man., and terrorized the 
district for about a year in the early 8o's. One was gray, 
one red or liver colour. No one owned them; they lived wild. 
George Eraser, of Winnipeg, my informant, fired at them 
several times with a shot-gun, without visible effect. One day 
he got a close chance at the red one with No. 5 shot; the beast 
got away, but never was seen again; probably it died. 

AS W. F. White, the taxidermist, of Winnipeg, informed me, 

TRAIN- . ' . . . , 

DOGS not long ago, that he had no difficulty in selling living male 
Wolves, as they could be utilized to cross with and improve the 

Henry also speaks of saving young Wolf cubs to be used 
for the trains. -- 

'"Journal, A. Henry, i7(;9-i8i4, pul). 1897, p. 166. 

^' Franklin's First Jounicy, 1823, p. 90. '" Journal, 1897, p. 175. 

Gray-wolf 781 

Captain Dick Craine, of Petoskey, Mich., tells me that he 
spent 9 years among the train-dogs in Alaska and Yukon; 
owning and handling in that time 200 dogs. Among these he 
had 3 full-blooded Wolves also used as train animals. Many 
half-breeds of course were among the dogs, and all are more 
or less of Wolf blood. 

The latter, he says, is not so good as a train-dog. It is 
strong enough but always more or less shy, watching its driver 
as though cowed, and shrinking from the touch of the hand. 

The only tangible difference between a Husky dog and a 
wild Wolf is in the tail. A Wolf's tail is rarely above level or 
curled up; a Husky dog's is always excessively curled. Why ? 
Perhaps it is a result of the harness toil. In hauling, unusual 
energy is forced into all the extremities; that in the tail is not 
specially directed, and therefore causes the tail to curl up, 
obedient to the strongest muscles, just as a man's teeth clinch 
under violent effort of the limbs. I doubt not, if the flexor 
muscles of the tail were strongest, instead of the levators, the 
train-dog's tail would be permanently curled between his legs. 

Corroboration of this is found in a fact that I have several 
times observed. A train of half-bred Wolves may set off in the 
harness with tails down, but the moment they come to a bad 
place, where they must strain at the traces, their tails fly up 
into curl. 

The Husky dog's ears are frequently drooped. A wild 
Wolf's ears are erect, but, according to Captain Craine, the 
train Wolf at the age of nine or ten is apt to droop his ears. 

Many observers attest the tamableness and dogginess of doggi- 
this animal. Ross says r' "A full-grown Wolf became, dur- 
ing the months of July and August, 1857, quite domesticated 
at Fort Resolution. Though rather shy of the people, it lived 
in great harmony with the dogs, playing and sleeping with 
them, and sharing their food. Around the smoke made to 
keep off the myriads of noxious flies from the cattle, it reposed 
with the other animals, and, although there was a small calf 

^ Fur-bearing Anim. Mack. R., Can. Nat., January, 1861, p. 11. 

782 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

in the band, it never attempted mischief. It was shot at by 
an Indian and never seen after." 

The Rev. J. A. McLaughlin,-^ of Berens River, Lake 
Winnipeg, wrote me, March 9, 1893: 

"Wolves are quite numerous here this winter, but do not 
seem to band together, to any extent, and are not, so far as I 
know, dangerous. Last week one of the Indians on going to 
his cache, where he had been doing his fall fishing, found a 
splendid black Wolf in a trap. He tied his mouth with a line, 
took him out of the trap, hitched him up to his dog train, and 
made him help haul in the load of fish. The Hudson's Bay 
Company ofificer here had him chained up at the Fort, and 
intends trying to make a cross with one of his dogs. I have 
seen a number of Wolves, but none like this specimen. The 
fur is exactly like a Silver-fox in colour, thick and beautiful. 
The ears are much more rounded than usual, giving the head 
more of the appearance of a Bear than a Wolf. I have handled 
it, but there is never any sign of crossness, and no attempt at 

D. T. Hanbury on his journey from Selkirk to Norway 
House, February 26, 1899, says:'^ "At this place [Berens 
River], I had the novel experience of riding in a sleigh drawn 
by a team which included a Wolf. This animal was muzzled 
and, though rather savage, worked well. I was told that a pure 
Wolf does not retain its stamina in captivity, but a half or 
quarter cross makes a most useful animal." 

It is hard to understand why the train-dogs should so fear 
the Wolves, if they are such near kin. Probably the wild ones 
are larger and the train-dogs more or less cowed by their life. 

LATENT The savage nature of the Wolf, however, is apt to break 

FEROC- . . ° , . , , , J . ' 

iTY out at times m the tram-dog, as already noted m my account 

of the Winnipeg Wolf on an earlier page. Another tragic 

incident of the kind took place recently on the Saskatchewan. 

"Mr. McLaughlin was drowned in Lake Winnipeg, September 12, 190,3, while 
faithfully doing his work. 

"" Northland, Canada, 1904, p. 6. 

Gray-wolf 783 

It was reported to me by Dr. D. A. Stewart, of Winnipeg. A 
half-breed dog-driver was taking his team and his little boy to 
a distant post. He left the boy in charge of the team while 
he went after a Deer. On his return he found the dogs curled 
up asleep and nothing left of his son, except fragments of his 
clothes. The half-breed was a devout Catholic; he drove the 
dogs to the Trading Post, shot the four brutes, and gave them 
Christian burial. 

The diseases that have been observed to torment the dis- 
Gray-wolf are mange, scab, and rabies. I have several times 
heard of mange removing all of a Wolf's hair except a ridge 
along the spine, and in consequence have arisen many rumours 
of strange beasts in the land. 

Warburton Pike says:"" "There was some sort of disease 
resembling mange among them [Gray-wolves] in the winter of 
1889-90, which had the effect of taking off all their hair, and 
judging from the number of dead that were lying about, must 
have considerably thinned their numbers." 

Henry in his Journal makes frequent mention of scab. 

" March 3. A large Wolf came into my tent three times, 
and always escaped a shot. Next day while hunting I found 
him dead about a mile from the Fort; he was very lean and 
covered with scabs." 

Rabies or hydrophobia seems to break out among them 
at times. Although Wolves do not ordinarily attack man in 
America, there are one or two recent cases on record, from the 
western United States, but there is also evidence that in each 
case the Wolf was rabid. 

Even as early as 1800 it appears to have been considered 
evidence of madness for a Wolf to attack a man, as Henry 
thus makes record at Park River :^'* 

November 2. "Last night the Wolves were very trouble- 
some; they kept up a terrible howling about the Fort, and 

'^ Barren Grounds, N. Canada, 1892, p. 53. 

"Journal, A. Henry, 1779-1814, pub. 1897, p. 194. '"Ibid., p. 133. 

784 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

even attempted to enter Maymiutch's tent. A large white 
one came boldly into the door and was advancing towards a 
young child when he was shot dead. Some of them are very 
audacious. I have known them to follow people for several 
days, attempt to seize a person or dog, and to be kept off 
only by fire-arms. It does not appear that hunger makes them 
so ferocious, as they have been known to pass carcasses of 
animals, which they might have eaten to their fill, but they 
would not touch flesh; their object seeming to be that of 
biting. The Canadians swear that these are mad Wolves 
and are much afraid of them." 

And again:-" 

"April i8, 1810 [on North Saskatchewan]. Another 
mare was bitten in the nose by a mad Wolf and died the day 
after, foaming at the mouth and running around distracted." 

WOLF- Wolves are so rarely seen that shootinij; is not to be relied 

KILLING . -' t' 

on as a means 01 keepmg them down. 

Hunting with dogs has been carried on with fair success, 
but it requires a composite pack of running, tracking, and 
fighting dogs, as well as the best of horses, so that it is somewhat 

In the early days the Indians captured many Wolves in 
pitfalls. The following, from Henry's Journal, bears on this:'" 

"We had now [south of Turtle Mountain] a well-beaten 
path, but were several times in danger of breaking our necks 
in deep pits which the natives had dug in the path to catch 
Wolves and Foxes in winter. Some of them are 10 feet deep, 
hollowed out to a space about 30 feet in circumference, whilst 
the entrance is no wider than the foot-path and about 5 feet 
in length. These holes are covered with dry grass at the 
season when Wolves are good, and every morning are found to 
contain some of these animals. In summer the grass grows 
strong and high about the mouths, entirely concealing them, 
until one arrives upon the very brink, and is in danger of 
tumbling in headlong." 

^' Ibid., ]>. 594, *> Ibid., p. 322. 

Gray-wolf 785 

Poisoning, once quite easy, is now very hard to practise, poison- 
since the Wolves have learned the smell and dangers of strych- 
nine. One method is to bore an auger hole into a post that 
the Wolves use as a 'calling station,' fill it with a mixture of 
strychnine and tallow, and then over the outside spread a coat 
of pure tallow or butter. The Wolves will lick and gnaw at 
this till the poison has time to work, at least in former times 
they did so; now it seems to be losing its charm for them. 

In early days I have had some success in poisoning with a 
drag. To do this I would take a lump of meat, or a bunch of 
Jack-rabbits, and drag it behind my horse for ten miles around 
the camp. At intervals of a quarter of a mile I dropped a 
carefully prepared poisoned bait, two grains of strychnine in 
a gelatine capsule hidden in a piece of liver about two inches 
square. These baits are carried in a rawhide bag, are lifted 
out with a pair of wooden pinchers, and are never touched 
with iron or the human hand. It is well to mark in some way 
the place of each bait for future reference. 

The Wolves will follow the drag out of curiosity, even if 
not hungry, and, coming to the juicy bait, they will take it, or at 
least in olden days they used to take it. Then, again, the drag 
does good service, the poison is not likely to act before the 
Wolf travels a quarter of a mile, and he may go a mile, but he 
follows the drag still, and is picked up later on the line, instead 
of going off to die in some hollow where he cannot be found. 

Of late, however, the Wolves seem to have got a com- 
prehension of the device, and are no longer to be easily be- 
guiled. Though they yet follow the drag, they commonly 
urinate on the baits and pass on. It still answers for the Coyote, 
but incidentally gathers in many of the neighbours' dogs. 
This breeds inharmony. 

Steel traps are more successful because they call for less trap- 
initiative on the part of the Wolf. One way to employ these 
is on a drag as though for poison bait. Then at some spot on 
the line, preferably where two or more trails meet, bury a lump 
of meat and around that, three or four feet away, several traps, 

786 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

carefully rubbed with blood or cow-dung or smoked, and 
never touched with the bare hands. Each trap is fast to a 
separate drag; that is, a log or rock weighing forty or fifty 
pounds. Drag and all must be carefully concealed. The 
trap is sunk in the ground till the pan is exactly on a level with 
the surface, then the space under the pan is filled with dry 
grass. Coyote fur, or, best of all, cotton-wool. Dry dust is 
now sprinkled on everything, the trap logs and bait are com- 
pletely concealed, a few weeds thrown about, and, last of all, 
the foot of a Coyote or a Wolf is used to make a few reassuring 
tracks at the place. The foot of a female dog at the mating 
season lends an especially helpful touch. This plan seems to 
play on the Wolf's habit of burying surplus food. If the bait 
were in plain view he might find some suspicious taint, enough 
to make him keep his distance, but when it has to be dug out 
before examination, he has time to pass all around and to get 
into one or more of the traps. 

Sometimes the traps are set on the trails used by the 
Wolves in crossing cafions or going to water. The disad- 
vantage of this is that a great many cattle get into them and 
it is an awkward job getting the trap off the foot of a range 
steer. He is not so grateful as he should be. If, however, the 
traps be not too large, they slip ofi^ the hard hoofs of the cattle 
when they happen to tread in them. 

An excellent plan is to put a bait up three or four feet 
from the ground in a rough place; then set traps in the open 
places that a Wolf would naturally walk in as he circled about 
suspiciously to inspect the bait. 

Yet another plan is to put the trap under water. A thin piece 
of stone is laid on the pan, and the trap sunk so that only this 
stone is above water. This is set eighteen inches from the dry 
bank, then a foot beyond the trap a bait is put on another stone. 

The Wolf reaching out to sniff the bait, naturally sets a 
foot on the dry stone between him and the meat, and is caught. 
The water in this method assists greatly in disguising the smell 
of the iron. This plan answers also for most other carnivorous 



^ Jf i 



Urnat Tho 

„,7,.-,.;> S)6t<il 

Wolf study by E. T. Seton. 

Gray-wolf 787 

Wolf-hunters sometimes throw a marrow bone in the fire 
at sundown; this smoulders all night and makes an attractive 
smell that the Wolves can detect and are drawn by, though 
miles away. 

When seized by the trap a Wolf bounds off with all his 
strength. If the trap be held solid, something is likely to break 
under the violence of the struggle, but fastened to a drag, which 
yields to each jerk, the Wolf is securely held. His efforts 
merely tire him out, and he is usually found in the nearest 
cover or hollow within a few hundred yards of the bait. 

As to the humanity of setting out such devices for catching 
wild animals there is little to be said. Nevertheless, it is not 
so much injury of the steel as the days of struggling and starva- 
tion that have caused the chief suffering, and this every trapper 
aims to avoid by going at very short intervals to the traps. 
As a rule, the less the animal has suffered the better the pelt. 
The ranchman puts the matter briefly: We do not trap and 
poison for fun, but because the Wolves would soon ruin every 
man in the cattle business if we did not keep them down. 
And we kill that way because there is no other way of doing it. 

Since the above was written, Vernon Bailey, of the United 
States Biological Survey, has shed unexpected light on the 
Wolf question. He proves by actual experiment that, since 
the young Wolves are born in March, when the snow is on the 
ground, it is easy to track the parents home and exterminate 
the family. An energetic repetition of the process soon rids 
a region of Wolves. The details of his method are published 
in Bulletin 72, Forest Service, United States Department of 
Agriculture, 1906. 

The skin of the Gray-wolf is split open flat like that of a fur 
Beaver, while Coyote skins are cased like Fox and Mink. The 
fur is rich, full, and beautiful. It makes a fine robe, but is not 
very durable as a rug. It is prime from November 15 to 
April 15, and brings from $1.00 to ^10.00, according to quality. 

At the London annual fur sales held at Lampson's, 
March, igo6, there were 15,843 Wolfskins disposed of. The 

788 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

highest price realized was 64 shillings ($15.36) each, for two 
unusually fine blue skins, but 32 shillings each ($7.68) was 
considered a high price for 5 extra large fine skins of ordinary 
colour, and first-class skins varied, according to size, from 2 
shillings (48 cents) to 30 shillings ($7.20). 




Northern Coyote, Big Coyote, Prairie-wolf or Brush- 

Cams latrans Say. 

(L. Canis, a dog; L. latrans, barking; because it is more of a barker than is any 

other wild dog.) 

Canis latrans Say, 1823. Long's Exped. Rky. Mts., I, p. 168. 
Type Locality. — Council Bluffs, Iowa. 

French Canadian, le Coyote. 

Cree, Mes-cha-cha-gan-is' . 

Saut., Mes-cha-chag'-an-is. 

OjiB., Mes-ta-cha'-gan-es. 

Yankton Sioux, Song-toke-cha. 

Ogallala Sioux, Mee-yah-slay'-cha-lah. 

'Cased Wolf is the old trade name of the Coyote, be- 
cause its skin was cased like that of a Muskrat, while the 
Gray-wolf's pelt was spread out flat like that of a Beaver. 

The generic characters are as in the preceding, but the 
Northern Coyote may be distinguished from the Gray-wolf first 
and chiefly by its much smaller size, slender build, and almost 
fox-like muzzle and ears; second, its general warmer sienna 
colour; and from the numerous other Coyotes of the far South- 
west by its larger size, paler colours, and teeth of which the 
premolars and carnassials are "very large and greatly swollen." 

A very fat male killed at Touchwood Hills, Sask., by size 
Ed. Hollis, in the winter of 1901-2, measured: 

Head and body 2 feet 9^ inches C850 mm.) 

Tail 13 " (330 mm.) 

Hind-foot 7f " (198 mm.) 

Ear 4^5^ " (no mm.) 


790 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

This was not unusually large, but it was the heaviest he 
ever saw, weighing 42 pounds on standard scales. 

A still heavier is reported to me by George L. Riming- 
ton, of Penrith, England. He spent the winter of 1907-8 
hunting Coyotes near Calgary, Alta.; out of 85 killed, the 
heaviest was a very large male, which weighed 46 pounds on 
standard scales. As the date was early November, it was of 
course at its fattest time. 

A Winnipeg specimen (female) collected in the October 
of 1908 by E. W. Darbey was: 

Length of snout to tail-bone tip . .4 feet I inch (1245 mTi-) 

Tail I foot 2^ inches (369 mm.) 

Hind-foot 8 " (203 mm.) 

Height at shoulders I " 9 " (534 mm.) 

Weight 25 pounds. 

Richardson gives' 3 feet (915 mm.) as the length of the 
head and body of a specimen he took on the Saskatchewan. 
In New Mexico, among a score of Coyotes of the local form 
(lestes), I found many of the above dimensions, but the heavi- 
est, a male, weighed 31 pounds; the ordinary males were but 
28 pounds and the females 24 pounds. 

COLOUR "Muzzle dull and rather pale fulvous, finely sprinkled 

with gray hairs (chiefly above) and with black hairs (chiefly 
on cheeks); top of head from front of eyes to ears griz- 
zled gray, the pale fulvous zone of under-fur showing 
through, but the gray predominating; ears deep, rich fulvous, 
sparingly sprinkled with black hairs; upper parts from ears 
to tail coarsely mixed buffy-gray and black; under parts and 
upper lip whitish; long hairs of throat sparingly tipped with 
blackish, giving the broad collar a grizzled appearance; fore- 
legs and feet dirty whitish, becoming dull clay colour on outer 
side of leg; hind-legs and feet dull fulvous on outer side, white 
on inner side and on dorsal surface of feet, the change from 
fulvous to white rather abrupt; tail narrowly tipped with 

' F, B, A., 1829, I, p. 74. 

Life study made by E. T. Seton, in Jackson's Hole, Wyo., Septembei 

Coyote 791 

black; its under side whitish basally, becoming pale fulvous on 
distal half and tipped and edged with black."^ {Merriam}) 

The first of the above colour descriptions fits word for 
word and hair for hair to the typical male Gray-wolf described 
in the Wolf chapter (pp. 750-1). The only difi^erence I find on 
comparing many skins of Gray-wolf and Coyote is in the under- 
fur of the back, which usually is gray-brown in the former, 
and sienna-brown ih the latter. There are many exceptions, 
however, so that we must look to the size of the animal, with 
its cranial and dental character, for reliable diagnosis. 

Four races of the large Coyote are recognized: 

latrans Say, the typical form. 

nebracensis Merriam, similar but "everywhere paler; 
backs of ears buff instead of fulvous; skull and 
teeth smaller." 

texensis Bailey, like nebracensis, " but darker, brighter- 
coloured, and with lighter dentition; smaller, 
brighter, and more fulvous than latrans." 

lesfes Merriam, very similar to latrans in size and 
colour, "cranial characters as in nebracensis, but 
skull and teeth averaging somewhat larger." 


While we speak broadly of the Coyote as though it were 
one species, it should be remembered that scientists recognize 
at least a dozen kinds that are closely akin and yet have their 
own peculiarities and habitat. But they agree in their general 
style and character; the Coyotes everywhere are sons of the 

^ The Winnipeg specimen measured above agrees fairly well in colour with this 
description, but has the lips fulvous, a black spot on the forepart of each fore-leg, 
and a large black spot on the base of the tail over the gland. The under-fur every- 
where is plumbeous, except on the throat, where it is pure white. 

' Revision of Coyotes, Proc. Bio. Soc, Washington, Vol. XI, pp. 19-33, March 15, 

792 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

desert, Ishmaelites living by their wits. Further, they are 
ahke in their vocal gifts — our Ishmaelite is also a Troubadour. 
The first of the Coyotes to be discovered was of course the 
one that is found farthest East. It happens also to be the 
largest. This is latrans, 'the barker,' so called by Say, because 
it was the only known species of wild Dog that habitually 

Its range, so far as known, is set forth on Map No. 43, 
though I suspect it goes much farther north-westward than 
the lines would indicate. 

The spot near the Alaskan Boundary marks a new record. 
In 1907, Madison Grant secured a complete skin and skeleton 
of a Coyote killed near Whitehorse on Alsek River, Alaska, in 
February of that year. Dr. J. A. Allen examined the specimen 
and found it closely related to lestes.* 

In general, it prefers the untimbered portions of the north 
temperate regions, but the Prairie-wolf is far from confining 
itself to the open country. The woods from Pembina to 
Riding Mountain, as well as immediately east of Winnipeg, 
is well supplied with the species. I found it abundant about 
Lake Winnipegosis even on the east side of the water, even 
where fully 100 miles in direct line from open country. And 
north-westerly its range extends into the forest 500 miles to 
Great Slave Lake. It is never found, so far as I can learn, in 
the north-eastern or coniferous region of Manitoba, but it is 
more or less plentiful in all the south-western half of the 

HOME- So much for the range of the species. The range of the 

individual is less easy to establish. How large is the home- 
range of a Coyote, or rather, a pair of Coyotes ? For we shall 
see that this interesting little brute is highly moral as well as 
clever. I should think, notwithstanding the popular notion of 
the Coyote as a world-wanderer, that its home-range is much 
less than 10 miles across. After consulting many hunters and 

'Bull. .\m. Mus. \. 11., Vc.l. XXIV, pp. 584-6, September 11, 1908. 



This chart is purely diagrammatic ; manv of the forms undoubtedly overlap or intergrade. It is drawn up chiefly from Dr. C. Hart Merriam's 
Kevision of the Coyotes, 1897. the Biological Survey map (Doc. 132, Senate igo?). aUu D. G. Elliot. Vernon Bailey, E. A. Preble, H. A. Allen, 
and from my own notes in many parts of the West. Full investigation must greatly change the boundaries between the many forms and alt the 


I Me 
The following are recognized: 

Cam's latrans Say. Common, with 4 races, 
Canisfrustror Woodhouse. Woodland Coyote, 
Canis cagoltis (H. Smith). Red Coyote. 
Canis peninsulae Merriam. South California Coyote 
Cants microJon Merriam. Rio Grande Coyote, 
Canis mearnsi Merriam. Mearns's Coyote, 

Canis es/or Merriam. Desert Coyote, 

Cam's ochropus Eschshoetz. California Coyote, 

Canis oigilis Merriam. Colima Coyote, 

Canis golJmani Merriam, 

Can/5 depticus Elliot, 

Canis impaviJus Allen. 

794 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

making numerous observations, I conclude that in the sum- 
mer a township (6 miles square) is more than ample hunting- 
ground for a pair of Coyotes. In winter, perhaps, twice as 
much is needed, in the north, and beyond this they never go 
of their own free will; outside this limit is foreign country 
to them. 

ABUN- But they do not occupy any area to the exclusion of their 

kind; probably the ranges of at least half a dozen pairs overlap 
on the same hunting-ground, which assumes a general popula- 
tion of 10 to the township. These calculations would, if 
correct, give us a Coyote population in Manitoba of 12,000. 
Or, approaching the question from another view, in 1904 the 
Manitoba government paid bounties on 4,541 Prairie-wolves 
killed in the Province. The testimony of all observers is that 
the Wolves are increasing in spite of this destruction, therefore 
the annual increase is greater than the annual kill. This would 
presuppose an original population of at least 5,000, which we 
may safely accept as a minimum of Coyotes in Manitoba, and 
of course they are condensed in the south-western half of the 

That this is a low estimate the following shows: In 
Shields' Magazine for April, 1904,^ Jack Comegys describes a 
recent Coyote drive at Evans, Colo.; about 20 square miles 
(half a township) were included, and some 40 Coyotes rounded 
up; that is, 80 to the township, or say 2 to the square mile. 
Further, according to the United States Biological Survey,' the 
State of Kansas (81,700 square miles), in the year ending 
July I, 1904, paid bounties on 20,000 Coyote scalps, but their 
numbers were not perceptibly diminished; at least as many — 
the Colorado evidence would say even double as many — 
were left, which would make the population above i to 2 
square miles, or 20 to the township. 

If anything like these rates of population prevail over their 
entire territory, we shall have a total of fully 1,000,000 of the 

»P. 215. 

° D. E. Lanlz, Hull. No. 20, Biol. Surv. U. S. Dcp. Agr., 1905, p. 9. 

Coyote 795 

large Coyotes on the 2,000,000 square miles over which they 
are found. 

The species is but slightly gregarious. The most I have socia- 
ever seen in one day were 8, and the most at one spot, were 3. '''"'^^ 
They were gathered at a dead calf and scattered immediately 
after their feast. The most I have heard of together were 12, 
also attracted by a carcass. W. R. Hine tells me that he has 
seen 5 together, never more; these were at a dead animal; 
3 are the most I ever saw travelling in company, and the most 
he ever met with in one day was a dozen during a 60-mile 
drive along Red River, in the autumn. 

Six Coyotes were seen by Lew Wilmot,^ as they were 
chasing a Deer, in the spring of the year at Oroville, Wash. 

Eight Coyotes were seen together in August by Henry W. 
Wende, of Sunnyside, Wash. They were near a drinking 
place in the Yakima Valley and may have been a family, but 
they looked fully grown. 

A dozen are the most in one band that I can learn of. 
These were seen and heard near Humboldt by Professor John 
Macoyn on October 15, during his journey from Fort Carleton 
to Winnipeg in 1875. Early one morning, as he sat by the 
fire after his wagon had gone, they gathered about him and 
sitting on their haunches, some 75 yards off, all howled their 
loudest personal information. 

As will be shown later, the Coyotes frequently combine 
their efforts for the common good, although they do not habit- 
ually go or live in bands. I should therefore say the species 
was sociable, though but slightly gregarious. 

Intercommunication of ideas is well developed among inter- 
Coyotes. The smell-telephone with the smelling posts is largely ^ica. 
used, but they ako communicate many ideas by example. "^^"-"^ 

Their remarkable vocal powers are at least as important 
as any. The principal sounds they utter are described in 
another paragraph. 

' Forest and Stream, April lo, 1897, p. 284. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

It is the opinion of all persons familiar with its habits 
that this animal is strictly monogamous. It is usually seen 
single or in pairs, mostly in pairs. Every scrap of recorded 
evidence that I can find, as well as all my own observations, 
go to prove that winter and summer it is the rule for 2 
Coyotes to run, hunt, and live together. Even the 6 described 
by L. Wilmot were in 3 pairs. And since this union holds the 

year round, we may safely infer 
that the species pairs for life. 

As a natural corollary the 
male helps in raising the brood. 
A. S. Barton says that the 
male aids the female with the 
young, at least till they are able 
to leave the den. In autumn, 
male and female are always 
found together, but he never 
saw the whole family together 
at this time. The young may 

Fig. aoo — Diagram of the Coyotf Dt-n opened by 

A. s. liarton, at Boissevain, Man. j^^^g scattcted, or those obscrved 

may have been a barren pair; such are frequent. 

The actual mating season is about the middle or during 
the last two weeks of February. 

Their usual denning place is one dug by the Coyotes 
themselves, in some sunny bank, but they may use an aban- 
doned Badger hole. 

The entrance is about 10 by 20 inches and is commonly 
concealed in the bushes. The actual nest is sometimes lined 
with a little grass and fur, and sometimes is quite bare. Barton 
sends the accompanying plan and description of one which 
he examined near Boissevain, Man. (Fig. 200). 

Apparently it had been dug by the present owners, and 
was much the same as the dozen or so others he had investi- 
gated. The air-hole, located after close search, was, as usual, 
an old Gopher hole, enlarged from below and directly over the 
nest; he supposes it was made to admit fresh air to tlie cubs. 

Coyote 797 

I have not seen this ventilator, but may have overlooked 
it, as I had not heard of such a contrivance when last I ex- 
amined a Coyote's den. It is well known that a family will 
have several dens, some of which are, as Barton says, "sleeping 
places for use during the heat of the day, which is one reason 
why so many attempts to dig out Coyote dens often fail of 

Usually the young are born during the first half of April, young 
April 9 in the New York Zoological Park and April 20 in 
the Washington Zoo represent the extreme dates at hand. 

They number from 3 to 10, but are usually 5 to 7. 

They are blind and helpless, but covered with close, dark 
ash-coloured fur. 

It is generally believed that the father is not permitted to 
enter the home for some days after their birth, but I have not 
been able to confirm this belief. 

It is sure that he is never far away, and his devotion is 
vouched for by all who know him. Dr. W. T. Hornaday 
informs me that the father of the brood born April 9 took a 
keen interest in the young, and became very ofiicious, even 
vicious, in their defence. Their eyes opened on eighth and 
ninth days, variously. When about three weeks old the 
mother would carry them out into the sun, or about the yard 
and back again. At five weeks they were old enough to walk 
out alone. They were not fed by regurgitation at any time, 
so far as known. 

Keeper Carson, however, assures me that in the Philadel- 
phia Zoo, where the Coyotes frequently breed, the mother 
disgorges food for them regularly, exactly as does the mother 
Gray-wolf. When some six weeks old, both parents begin to 
bring solid food to the little ones, and the entrance to the den 
becomes littered with feathers, fur, bones, and other remains 
of their prey. 

The young are so keen to see and welcome father and 
mother back with the new catch, that they make little path- 
ways from the den to all the near points that give a view. Here 

798 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

they will sit and watch, but are ever ready to skurry home on 
the slightest alarm. 

A glimpse of their life at this time was secured by Professor 
John Macoun, of Ottawa, Ont., while exploring near Crane 
Lake, Sask., in 1884. On June 23, he came on a Coyote family 
— father, mother, and at least 3 young ones. At his approach 
all ran into the den. 

As they get older. Barton says that the cubs scratch out 
little pockets leading from the main den. In digging after 
them, these are frequently covered over and escape notice, so 
that some of the little ones are never found. 

I have a most interesting photograph by William McFad- 
den, of Denver, showing 9 young Coyotes playing about the 
door of the house. This was taken in June. The young were 
about one-third grown; both parents were seen in attendance 
on them, and when they found that the home was discovered, 
they moved the young ones elsewhere. (Plate LXXI.) 

This habit is quite general among Coyotes. Barton 
writes that on May 21, 1905, he found a den in a ravine 
a mile out of Boissevain, Man. The mother was running 
around and the pups squealing deep in the hole. But when 
he went back next day to dig them out, the litter had been 
moved evidently to a distance, for a careful search in the 
neighbourhood failed to locate them. 

In July the young are half grown. They now begin to 
run with their parents and learn the arts of hunting. At this 
season the mother especially guards and trains them carefully. 
Her warning call of danger is a very distinctive cry — a pro- 
longed, quavering yelp or squall, rising in pitch towards 
the end. 

" I remember [says Barton] on one occasion I was hunting 
a young Coyote, when the mother coursed along a neighbouring 
height uttering this cry. I had two foxhounds in leash, they 
were after her, but a few minutes later came racing towards 
me in terror, closely pursued by the mother. They were so 
embarrassed by the leash and she was so active that she ran 
around and bit tliem as often as she chose." 

Coyote 799 

In October the young are as big as the parents and 
the family is scattered. Food is still abundant, although the 
Ground-squirrels have retired to their winter quarters, and the 
Coyotes are sleek and fat, but from this time on the struggle 
for life grows hard and deadly. 

"Wolves, and probably Coyotes [says Bailey*], do not 
breed till 2 years old, which accounts for the presence of roving 
bands during the breeding season." 

The only migration that I know of in this species is the migra- 
casual one in search of shelter or better hunting. In January, 

Tracks of Coyoti 

1883, after a three days' blizzard at Carberry, Man., the 
Coyotes were seen moving all day from the north to the south- 
west. Eight individuals I saw, and the trails in the snow told 
of many others taking the same course. The wind was south- 
west. Barton says that in stormy weather there is a sort of 
local migration of the species from the Souris Plains to the 
sheltered region of Turtle Mountain. 

The food of the species consists of every kind of fish, flesh, food 
or fowl that it can master alive or discover dead. Ground- 

' V. Bailey, Circular No. 63, Biol. Sur. U. S. Dep. Agr., April 29, 1908, p. 7. 

800 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

squirrels, Mice, Rabbits, frogs, snakes, eggs, and fledgling 
birds are on its bill-of-fare, and the hen-yards as well as the 
sheep-folds are levied on in times of need. 

HABITS Mary Austin gives an admirable picture of a prowling 

Coyote in her "Land of Little Rain":" "Watch a Coyote 
come out of his lair," she says, "and cast about in his mind 
where he will go for his daily killing. You cannot very well tell 
what decides him, but very easily that he has decided. He 
trots or breaks into short gallops, with very perceptible pauses 
to look up and about at landmarks, alters his tack a little, 
looking forward and back to steer his proper course. 

" I am persuaded that the Coyotes in my valley, which 
is narrow and beset with steep sharp hills, in long passages, 
steer by the pinnacles of the skyline, going with head cocked 
to one side to keep to the left or right of such and such a 

"I have trailed a Coyote often, going across country, 
perhaps to where some slant-winged scavenger hanging in the 
air signalled prospect of a dinner, and found his track such as 
a man, a very intelligent man accustomed to hill country, and 
a little cautious, would make to the same point. Here a detour 
to avoid a stretch of too little cover, there a pause on the rim of 
a gully to pick the better way — and it is usually the best way — 
and making his point with the greatest economy of effort." 

cuN- The Prairie-hare and others of the Plains beasts often find 

safety in superior fleetness when pursued by the Coyote. But 
the latter sometimes succeeds by cunning, when all its strength 
and speed might fail, as the following instances show: 

John B. Goff, the hunter, tells me that while freighting 
between Rifle and Rawlins, Colo., some years ago, he saw 
2 Coyotes chasing an Antelope. They worked a distance apart, 
keeping the Antelope running zigzag between them, so that it 
really did four times the running of either. It was nearly 
exhausted and ran up to his horses for protection. The 
» 1904, pp. 30-31. 

Coyote 801 

Coyotes then held off. He had no gun, but he threw a rope 
around the Antelope's neck and, being in need of meat, cut 
its throat, and threw it into the wagon. 

In an article on "Coyote Partnership," Dr. George Bird 
Grinnell, referring to the Coyote plan of running an Antelope 
down by relay chasing, says:'" 

"Of course the Coyotes do not catch every Antelope they 
start. Sometimes the game runs such a course that it does not 
pass near any of the waiting Wolves, and only the one that 
starts it has any running to do. In such a case the pursuit is 
at once abandoned. Sometimes the Antelope is so stout 
and strong that it tires out all its pursuers. * * * Two or 
three years ago I camped one afternoon near Rock Creek, and 
as there was very little feed we turned the horses loose at night 
to pick among the sage brush and grease wood. Early in the 
morning before sunrise, while the man with me was getting 
breakfast, I started out to get the horses. They were nowhere 
to be seen, and I climbed to the top of the hill back of camp, 
from which, as it was the only high place anywhere about, I 
felt sure that I could see the missing animals. Just before 
I got to the top of the hill an old doe Antelope suddenly came 
in view, closely followed by a Coyote. Both of them seemed 
to be running as hard as they could, and both had their tongues 
hanging out as if they had come a long way. Suddenly, almost 
at the heels of the Antelope — much closer to her than the 
other Wolf — appeared a second Coyote, which now took up 
the running, while the one that had been chasing her stopped 
and sat down and watched. The Antelope ran quite a long 
distance, always bearing a little to the left, and now seeming to 
run more slowly than when I first saw her. As she kept run- 
ning, it was evident that she would either run around the hill 
on which I stood or come back near it. At first I was so inter- 
ested in watching her that I forgot to look at the Wolf that had 
stopped near me. When I did so he was no longer at the place 
where he had stopped, but was trotting over a little ridge 
that ran down from the hill, and watching the chase that was 

'" Forest and Stream, February 6, 1897. 

802 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

now so far off. He could easily have run across the chord of 
the arc and headed the Antelope, but he knew too well what 
she would do to give himself that trouble. After a little it was 
evident that the Antelope would come back pretty near to 
the hill, but on the other side of it from where she had passed 
before, and the Wolf which I had first seen chasing her trotted 
out 200 or 300 yards on to the prairie and sat down. The 
Antelope was now coming back almost directly towards him, 
and I could see that there were two Wolves behind her, one 
close to her heels and the other a good way further back. 
The first Wolf now seemed quite excited. He no longer sat 
up but crouched close to the ground, every few moments 
raising his head very slowly to take a look at the doe, and 
then lowering it again so that he would be out of sight. 
Sometimes he crawled on his belly a few feet further from 
me, evidently trying to put himself directly in the path of the 
Antelope and this he seemed to have succeeded in doing. As 
she drew near him I could see that she was staggering, she 
was so tired, and the Wolf behind could at any moment have 
knocked her down if he had wanted to, but he seemed to be 
waiting for something. The Wolf that was following him was 
now running faster and catching up. 

"When the Antelope reached the place where the first 
Wolf was lying hidden, he sprang up and in a jump or two 
caught her neck and threw her down. At the same moment 
the two Wolves from behind came up, and for a moment there 
was a scuffie in which yellow and white and gray and waving 
tails were all mixed up, and then the three Wolves were seen 
standing there tearing away at their breakfast." 

In the October of 1893, while living in New Mexico near 
Clayton, I had an opportunity of watching a joint hunt of 
Prairie-dogs by 2 Coyotes, no doubt a pair. Early in the 
morning I was on a rugged hill overlooking a plain on which 
was a Prairie-dog town. One Coyote was in an arroyo or 
dry watercourse hidden from view. The other walked openly 
and calmly toward a Prairie-dog that was barking vigorously 



To illustrate the Coyote's 

jf combining drive and ambush with relay chasing, without wliich ruse they could not capture 
the swifter Antelope. 

Coyote 803 

on its mound. The Coyote paid little heed but walked so as 
to pass within 20 yards. The Prairie-dog dodged down. 
Then Coyote No. i continued his leisurely walk, while Coyote 
No. 2 rushed forward and hid behind another mound. Very 
soon the Prairie-dog began to peep out, and seeing the Coyote 
at a safe distance he scrambled onto his high outlook to hurl 
defiant little barks after the foe. But the Coyote behind 
sprang and all but caught him before he scrambled into 

In this case the combination failed, but evidently it must 
oftentimes succeed. 

On October 3, 1902, while driving near Meeker, Colo., 
I saw a cow defending her new-born calf from a Coyote. 
The calf was able to stand, and 2 or 3 steers lent some aid to 
the cow. The Coyote walked about openly and quietly or 
sat on his haunches some 20 yards away. The cow and steers 
went on feeding but kept an eye on the Coyote, and the 
mother always managed to be between the calf and his foe. 
Occasionally one of the defenders would throw up his head, 
shake his horns, snort, and even run a few steps at the Coyote, 
but there was a marked absence of action in the little drama. 
Doubtless it would continue so, unless the villain got a chance 
to rush in and inflict a deadly wound. 

Coyotes rarely molest calves or pigs in Manitoba, but they sheep- 
are very troublesome among other live stock. In the summer 
they kill many turkeys that roam afield far from the protection 
of the house dog, and sheep are particularly subject to their 
inroads. They have, indeed, nearly put an end to wool- 
raising in the Province. They destroyed all Barton's sheep, 
invariably selecting the fattest and best. At first it was found 
sufficient to put bells on several of the flock. But the Coyotes 
have got so far accustomed to these that the bells now protect 
only the sheep that wear them; some shepherds aver that these 
sagacious little Wolves will get up at night and listen for the 
sheep bells, so as to know where an easy supper is awaiting 


804 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

George H. Measham writes me from Shoal Lake in 
December, 1899: "Wolves are on the increase and becoming 
a regular pest. Many people have abandoned keeping sheep 
on their account. Although a bounty of $2 is paid for them, 
they manage to keep out of danger in a way only equalled by 

STOR- Like many others of the family, the Coyote has the frugal 

habit of storing food for future use; whether it can thus 
effectually hide it from plunderers, or whether indeed it always 
remembers the spot afterwards I cannot determine, though I 
think it unlikely that an animal with its high mentality, its 
sense of locality and fine nose, could fail of going to the spot 
at will. 

The following incident witnessed by A. S. Barton is a 
good illustration of the storage habit. 

" I was mowing hay in my coulee, when I noticed, some 
distance away, a Coyote carrying something in his mouth. 
He trotted down the hill and with some difficulty through the 
long grass, but presently stopped and began to bury his booty 
in a mole-heap, covering it with his nose, as a dog does. On 
my approach he decamped and watched my proceedings from 
the nearest hill, and, curious to know what he had been burying, 
I unearthed his cache, and found, to my surprise, a fine turkey 
gobbler, still warm and uninjured, except that its neck was 
broken. I had no time and less inclination to advertise for an 
owner, but accepted 'the goods the gods gave' and carried my 
prize home. Our next Sunday dinner was much appreciated, 
and we cheerfully drank the health of the purveyor, and of my 
unknown neighbour also." 

oMNiv- While a hunter by profession and by choice, there is 

OROUS • • , . 

nothing in the way offish, flesh, or fowl, ancient or modern, that 
the Coyote disdains for food. In the South-western States it 
has gone farther, developing there the watermelon habit, and 
I was not surprised to find it a fruit-eater in the far North- 

Coyote 805 

Sample dung-pellets gathered on the Athabaska River, 
Aha., in late October, 1907, were sent to the Biological Survey 
at Washington for analysis. The following remains in them 
were identified by Edward A. Preble and W. L. McAtee: 

Rosa {actcularisF), many seeds; Rihes, a great many 
berries; Aralia nudtcaula, many berries and seeds; Microtus 
drummondt, some hair (apparently) and portion of skull; 
Peromyscus, incisor (apparently Peromyscus); Fish, portion of 
skull of some fish; Water-beetles (Cortxa), remains of a good 
many; Grasshoppers {Melanoplus horealis), remains of about 
20; Ant, head of one. 

The winter is, of course, the season of peril for all creatures 
that do not store up a full supply of food, or hibernate. Can 
it stand the winter .? is the crucial test of all Northern species. 
Probably the chief thing that carries the Coyote race through 
is the new supply of food brought in by their enemy — the 
winter — that is, winter-killed sheep and cattle. These are 
dragged forth from time to time, and at each carcass half-wild 
dogs contend in nightly feast with Coyotes, or both retire 
while a big Gray-wolf fills his capacious belly. 

There are several disadvantages in this food supply: it mange 
affords a certain place for traps and poison to be laid; hundreds 
of Coyotes and not a few dogs are thus destroyed every year. 
The flesh of horses is credited also with giving mange to Wolves 
that over-indulge. Epidemics of mange have been known 
among the Coyotes. The popular view is that they come 
from over-feeding on dead horses. I do not know the evidence 
for this explanation or against it. The mange speedily ruins 
an animal's coat, and in a Manitoba winter, of course, this 
means death. 

At Carberry, in 1892, I was generally assured by residents 
that Coyotes were quite common still, although the Foxes were 
growing scarce. As many as 70 or 80 skins were to be seen 
hanging in Carberry at the same time, and the price for the 
primest had then dropped from $1.50 to 75 cents. A local 
farmer, Thomas Kerr, said that one winter a Prairie-wolf 

806 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

without any hair on it hid itself under his straw stack, and, 
although driven away by his dog, it returned and ensconced 
itself under the granary, where he shot it. It had some disease 
which had robbed it entirely of its hair, excepting a little patch 
on the shoulders, and it was trembling with cold. 

Another instance which shows how hard pressed the 
Coyote is at times by hunger was related to me by another 
Manitoba resident, Robert McCullough. 

At Carberry one winter's morning he went with a boiler 
in his hand to get some feed from the driving shed. The 
door was a little open, and he saw as he approached an animal 
which dashed about in the gloom of the shed. Its actions 
showed it to be a wild creature. He ran to the door just in 
time to prevent its escape. Barring the passage with the boiler, 
he rushed to the stable and back with a fork. The creature, 
a Wolf, took refuge under a reaper and there McCullough 
speared it, but the fork only pierced the loose skin of its 
belly, and it turned on its enemy, who held the fork to the 
ground with all his strength, and was barely out of the 
reach of the Wolf's jaws, for the handle was short, but he 
dared not withdraw the fork to strike again, and he had nothing 
to finish the animal with, so it was a deadlock. After a struggle, 
however, the man got the end of the handle fixed under a 
beam and rushed off to get a club. On returning, the Wolf was 
gone, apparently for good. But the next morning it was 
found within a few yards of the same place, quite dead, for the 
fork had pierced its bowels. But why should it return to the 
shed .? 

MEN- The Prairie-wolf is mentally a compound of Fox and 

iTY Wolf. While gifted with a good deal of cunning that is shown 
in its avoidance of traps and its method of taking its prey, it 
is also a desperate fighter when at all evenly matched. 

I have more than once seen a Coyote run across an open 
stretch of black ploughed land, then on a piece of dry yellow 
grass sink into concealment. It matched it perfectly in col- 
our, but was probably actuated by the idea that it was cover. 

Coyote 807 

The Coyote is less shy and cunning than the Gray-wolf. 
I find the following characteristic note in my New Mexico 

"Clayton, December 14, 1893. This morning I found that 
a small Gray-wolf had run my drag till he came to the first 
trap; there he turned aside, passing three cheese baits. A 
second very large Gray-wolf struck the drag just before the 
second traps. He passed them unhurt, then came to a cheese 
bait, urinated on it, and had then left the drag altogether. 
A Coyote that was following him on the chance of pickings, 
came on the bait and was kept from it by the treatment the 
Wolf had given it, but went on a mile and a half, picked 
up a poisoned cheese bait, and then half a mile farther got 
caught in the next trap, where I found him stark and 

It takes a wonderfully good dog to kill a Wolf. Yet I 
knew a collie, 'Old Frank,' the property of my neighbour, 
John Thompson, of Carberry, Man., that had several times run 
down and killed Coyotes single-handed. I saw him actually 
perform this feat in the November of 1882. The Wolf faced 
him again and again, but he managed each time to escape 
serious injury from its jaws, and when the Wolf turned to fly 
he would snap at its rear. On skinning the Wolf I found that 
the dog's teeth had sunk deep into the Wolf's flesh each time, 
so that its hind-legs were disabled. This Wolf, however, died 
gamely fighting. 

In my early days I caught a great many Wolves in traps — 
many scores, if not hundreds — and I found great diversity of 
behaviour among them at this trying time. Some were utterly 
cowed, and submitted to the death penalty in sullen silence, 
others struggled to escape, some yelled defiance, and not a few 
barked and growled savagely, trying to reach me, raging and 
defiant to the end. 

I have often known a Coyote to tempt a dog to chase him, 
then, at a safe distance from the dog's human backers, turn on 
him and drive him back with noisy demonstrations that looked 
like a wild practical joke. 


808 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

On March i8, 1883, I had an experience that shows 
somewhat of the mind of the Prairie-wolf. 

About 9 A.M. I was leaving the barnyard with team and 
sleigh to get a load of wood. As I rounded the stable I came 
into full view of a dead calf that was lying on the open prairie 75 
yards away. A Wolf was tearing at the calf; he saw me plainly 
but went on with his eating. Of course I had no gun; I knew 
that if I stopped now to get a gun the Wolf would run. So I 
kept straight on. I passed within 30 yards of him; he watched 
me, but kept on eating. After I was 300 yards away I turned 
back by another road, intending to go cautiously to the house 
and get the gun, but the moment I left the beaten road that 
watchful Wolf seemed to divine my purpose, and ran as though 
already the lead were flying after him. 

A similar incident is narrated by Dr. W. T. Hornaday." 

"The delicacy of the Coyote's judgment in keeping always 
beyond fair gun-shots is truly wonderful. If he is not a mind- 
reader his actions belie him. Twice in Montana, each time 
for two weeks, have I tried my utmost to shoot a Coyote; but 
during those periods not one would offer more than a running 
shot at three hundred yards or more. Twice, however, — and 
immediately after the above, — when riding quite unarmed, 
have Coyotes sat down beside the trail, waited for me to ap- 
proach within forty yards, then yawned in a bored manner, and 
slowly trotted off^. It is my belief that those animals knew 
perfectly well my inability to shoot." 

This is an incident of a kind that has led many to credit 
this animal (and others) with the power of telepathy. Before 
accepting such an explanation we must have many cognate 
instances recorded by trained observers and also have a fuller 
knowledge of the animal's sense-capacity in an ordinary 

In August, 1886, I saw 2 female Coyotes hght in a cage. 
They snapped chiefly at each other's necks. The victor, how- 
ever, disabled and subdued the other by a serious bite in the 

" Amcr. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 24. 

Coyote 809 

fore-leg, then amused herself by growling and urinating 
elaborately over the fallen foe; a treatment to which the van- 
quished submitted with every appearance of abject fear. 

This disposition to spurn and insult a conquered enemy 
seems peculiar to the dogs. Nothing of the kind is observable 
in cats. When a cat's enemy flies, the victor is done with him, 
but flight of the foe is the strongest incentive in a dog to pursue 
for a time at least and cover himself with glory. 

The speed of the Coyote is great, and has often been the speed 
subject of admiring comment, but I think it has been over- 
rated. After collecting data of various kinds, such as actual 
known records of dogs and horses, also the comparative 
records of dogs and Hares, or horses and Foxes, Wolves and 
hounds, hounds and automobiles, I have attempted a scale of 
comparative speeds. This appears in a diff^erent form in the 
Antelope chapter, p. 233 : 

Blood Race-horse covers a mile in about i minute 40 seconds 

Pronghorned Antelope 
First-class Greyhound 
Common Fox 
Northern Coyote 
American Gray-wolf 

1 _ 50 

2 minutes o 
2 " 10 
2 " 20 
2 " 30 

2 " 40 

Many hunters would set the Kit-fox or Swift yet above 
the Greyhound, especially for a short race, but I have had no 
personal experience with the species in a chase. The little 
Prairie Cottontail, can, I believe, get away from the Swift in a 
hundred yards dash; they cannot keep it up for long, but their 
initial velocity is incredible and bafiles the eye, not a leg, not a 
Rabbit is to be seen, nothing but a white streak across the 
prairie, till it promptly disappears in some burrow. 

What actually counts in the race is, as usual, the trifle more 
speed that each animal can command. 

For example, the Gray-wolf makes 650 yards to the minute 
and the Coyote about 700. But that 50 yards makes all the 

810 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

difference between living and dying. That 50 yards margin is 
probably the foothold on which the whole Coyote race has been 
built up. 

These rates, it will be seen, trench on the especial realm of 
birds: small birds make only 25 to 30 miles an hour. 

It is a well-known principle that the special development 
of an animal is its most variable part. Thus the peculiar bell 
in the throat of a Moose varies enormously; the bill of the Long- 
billed Curlew, the neck-feathers of the Ruff, the spots of the 
Ocelot, the white bands of the Skunk, the horns of the Elk, are 
so varied that rarely two are found just alike. Speed is one of 
the peculiarities of the Coyote as it is of the greyhound, and 
we must, therefore, look for great variations of rate. I have 
selected an average for my calculation, but there are occasional 
individuals. Coyotes of rare gifts, whose speed and endurance 
would put them very near the top of our scale. 

An individual of this description lived for three years on 
the north slope of Turtle Mountain, near Boissevain, Man. 
He was known as the 'Greyhound Coyote.' A. S. Barton 
hunted him many times with first-class greyhounds, dogs which 
ordinarily had no difficulty in catching a Coyote, and, though 
the chase was several times over open prairies, he has always 
left the dogs behind in a straight three-mile run, and safely 
reached his retreat in the wooded ravines of Turtle Mountain, 
thanks, not to any stratagem, but to his speed. It is not known 
what his end was; he may, indeed, be living yet. 

iNci-^^ Barton relates a curious instance of a crippled Coyote 

living for the last two years near Boissevain. It is known as 
the 'Three-legged Terror.' One of its front legs is missing, 
probably it was lost in a trap, but in spite of this the creature 
can outrun an ordinary dog. Greyhounds or very fast dogs 
easily outstrip it, whereupon it finds a place to protect its 
rear and presents such a desperate front that it has hitherto 

I suspect that this is a female, which might partly account 
for its immunity. 


Coyote 811 

The winter is, of course, the chief enemy of the Northern exe- 
Coyote. The shutting off of many food suppHes, the severe 
weather, the exposure to view of the hunters, poisoned baits 
which in summer would be scorned but which are now swal- 
lowed in desperation, all unite to make havoc in the numbers, 
and those that are left by the end of February are the strongest 
and wariest. Next after winter, the worst enemy of the 
Coyote is man; next to this, dogs; next, disease and parasites; 
then probably the Gray-wolf, the eagle, and the horned owl. 

It is improbable that these birds would attack a grown 
Coyote, or that the Gray-wolf could catch one, but the very 
young would fall an easy prey. 

The Elk and Deer are to be reckoned in this list. They 
have well-founded hatred of all Wolves, and never fail to 
strike one when they can. One blow from the foot of an Elk 
or Deer, or even an Antelope, may disable a Coyote, and give 
the hoofed avenger a chance to finish his work. 

I have never heard of a sane Coyote attacking man. 

The following adventure with a mad Coyote was recorded ii-^D 


by Malcolm Little, of Provo, Utah, and sent me by Mrs. S. 
Young Gates of the same city. 

"The summers of 1891 and 1892 were extremely dry and 
hot in northern Mexico. A two years' drought had left the 
extensive valleys barren. The grass was crisp and bleached, 
the dust heavy and rose in clouds, and the Casas Grandes 
River was dry save for a few deep, stagnant pools. This being 
the only water within many miles, all the animals of the im- 
mediate vicinity came there to drink. As a result, on each 
side of the river, for a great distance, hardly a spear of grass 
could be found. 

"The Coyotes were very numerous. They seemed to 
have been drawn from all the surrounding country to these 
watering places. So numerous were they, in fact, that in a 
few hours a man sitting in a tree near one of the pools shot 
13 that came to drink. They roamed about in droves of 
from eight to twelve in search of food. They were gaunt and 

812 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

hungry-eyed, and their fur was long and shaggy. They ap- 
peared to have lost nearly all the sense of fear of man, for they 
would hardly move out of the way of a horseman. They came 
into the towns and several were killed in the yards of the 
dwellings. One, I remember hearing of, walked into the par- 
lour at the front door, and while yet inside was killed with a 
garden hoe by the lady of the house. These many little 
encounters, however, were considered as only matters of 
pleasant gossip, and no one thought of any possible danger 
coming from them. 

"In late June of 1892 three men camped for the night 
midway between the village of Ascension and the Boca Grande, 
near one of the watering places on the river. They were on 
the range in search of cattle, and, as is common with cowboys, 
after the horses were hobbled out and supper over, they spread 
their blankets on the ground. A wide bed was made and 
about nine o'clock they lay down to sleep, Derby Johnson 
occupying one side, and the Jacobson brothers the other two 

"One of the Jacobsons was anxious about the horses and 
did not sleep soundly. In a few hours he was startled from 
a state of semi-wakefulness by a muffled sound, and seeing 
Derby sitting up in bed, and thinking something might be 
wrong with the animals, began to sit up also. As he did so 
he saw what appeared to be the tail of a Coyote moving to and 
fro. He sprang to his feet. The animal with its teeth fastened 
on the right jaw of his friend, just to the right of the chin, was 
clinging with the tenacity of madness; while Derby, apparently 
frozen by awful sensations, sat clasping the Coyote by the neck 
with both hands, one on each side. It was clear the only way 
the animal could be removed was by prying open its mouth. 
The brothers were strong men. Unconscious of the danger to 
themselves, or disregarding it, they took hold of the fastened 
jaws and broke them apart, the lower one being entirely 
wrenched from its place. They threw the Coyote to one side, 
but, with its lower jaw dangling downward and with menacing 
growls, it came towards them again. The young man, 

Coyote 813 

Derby, now freed, took his knife from his pocket, cut the ani- 
mal's throat, and then fainted. 

"One of the brothers remained with him while the other 
went for the horses. About eleven o'clock that night they 
started towards home, a distance of fifteen miles. Derby could 
ride only a few hundred yards without having to stop to rest, 
and very frequently the journey was stopped by his fainting. 

"They reached home early in the morning. Examination 
showed the Coyote had left a bad wound under his chin, where 
the teeth had penetrated, while in the upper part were only 
holes of the canines. 

"In a few days the patient was around, apparently well, 
and doing his work. 

"After the biting the Coyote was examined, and only dry 
Cottonwood leaves were found in its stomach. From all 
appearances it had had the rabies. 

"About a month after the occurrence the young man was 
riding with his companions, gathering cattle from out of a lake. 
The water was shallow, hardly knee-deep to the horses, and 
the cattle had gone there to feed on the rushes. All day this 
work continued, and while splashing through the lake he felt the 
first symptom of hydrophobia — a strong aversion for water. 
This feeling later was aggravated by some of his friends offer- 
ing him their canteens from which to drink. 

"He returned home immediately, and for a while was 
delirious. These spells continued intermittently. He grew 
worse for two or three days, constantly developing a still 
stronger dislike for all liquids, and he was able to swallow but 
very little. Towards the last his ravings became maniacal, and 
several men were required to hold him. A viscid secretion 
came from his mouth, the colour of his skin became purple, and 
his ravings were very loud — the latter, however, had nothing 
like barking about them, contrary to the common belief in 
cases of hydrophobia. During the last hour of his life he was 
quiet, and he died peacefully. 

"After this happening a 'scalp hunt' was gotten up, and 
log Coyotes were killed." 

814 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The voice of the Coyote is one of its most remarkable 
gifts. Barking is supposed to be Hmited to the dog and Coyote. 
This is not strictly true, for Wolves, Foxes, and Jackals bark at 
times, but it is true that the Coyote is the only wild animal that 
habitually barks. 

We must assume, as general propositions, that nothing in 
nature is without adequate cause, and that it is always worth 
while to search that out. Most of the many calls of the 
Coyote are signals to its companions, but some of them seem 
to be the outcome of the pleasure it finds in making a noise. 
The most peculiar of its noises is the evening song, uttered 
soon after sunset, close to camp. This is a series of short 
barks, increasing in power and pitch till it changes into a long 
squall. One Coyote begins and immediately two or more 
join in, making so much noise that newcomers think there 
must be a hundred Wolves out there. It is kept up for perhaps 
a minute or two, then ceases till some new impulse seizes them. 
August 27, 1904, in W. F. White's menagerie at Winnipeg, I 
saw a Coyote pup, which, though little bigger than a house cat, 
and less than three months old, had a fully developed voice, 
and, much to the amusement of numerous bystanders, joined 
in the yapping chorus as lustily as his grown-up relatives. 

Another note I have heard them utter towards dawn is a 
long, smooth sound, of truly musical quality. I have some- 
times mistaken it for the fluty call of a loon to his mate. 

I once knew a Coyote that would stay around the ranch 
till the small dog went valiantly after it. The Coyote would 
run till at a distance that made it safe from guns, then turn on 
the dog and drive him back ignominously to the shelter of the 
house. Of course, the dog soon learned that the enemy was 
not so 'easy' as he looked. 

On each occasion when the Coyote turned, he uttered a 
series of gurgling, growling barks, that seemed to strike terror 
into the dog, and were to me an entirely new Coyote 'song.' 

The sound the old one utters when the young are in 
danger is described by A. S. Barton as a loud, short, rough 


In Xew York Zoological Park. 

From a photograph by EUvin R. Sanhnm. 

PLATE L\X\'. — COYoll M.:,. 

In the sandhills, Carberry, Man. 

From a photograph by E. T. Seton. 

Coyote 815 

In their vespers he also notes an interesting habit. Two 
or three Coyotes will meet each night on a certain elevated 
place to sing. They have several of these recognized choir- 
lofts, but they never use the same on two nights in succession. 
Sometimes on Turtle Mountain, in dead calm moonlit nights, 
each Coyote gets up on his singing perch and pours out his 
loudest and finest notes. This is passed on from one point to 
another, till the whole mountain seems ringing with the weird 
music, and, from its very wildness and the vast stretch of the 
country that is concerned, the effect is truly impressive. 

In captive animals these simultaneous outbursts are often 
observed. A favourite time is at noon, when the blowing of 
whistles seems to be the immediate cause, or possibly only the 
last touch that precipitates the event. 

This species readily crosses with the dog. S. L. Bedson hybrids 
showed me a number of these hybrids at Stony Mountain, 
Man., in 1885. They were intermediate in character and 
continued to be interfertile with either stock, at least, for two 
or more generations. 

I never, however, heard of a cross between a Coyote and 
Gray-wolf, although the dog is as readily crossed with the 
latter as with the former relative. 

Coyotes are kept down by poisoning, trapping, and killing 

Poisoning, however, is now forbidden on account of the 
number of dogs destroyed. 

Trapping is carried on as with Foxes, for the Coyote is 
quite as cunning as its red-haired cousin. Not less than a No. 2 
trap will do, and it must be fast to a drag of 20 or 30 pounds 
weight, never staked solid. Trap, log, and all must be de- 
odorized by smoking and rubbing with blood. They must be 
carefully concealed in the soft ground and scraps of meat scat- 
tered about, but not on, the trap. A lump of meat buried 
under the trap is a sure attraction. The certainty with which 
they dig out buried meat, leads me to believe that the Coyotes 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

are very lax in their ideas of property rights where a cache of 
eatables is concerned. 

The pelt of the Coyote should be cased. The more com- 
plete it is the better. It is prime from October to April, and, 
according to the Winnipeg market quotations of March 26, 
1904, was worth $1.00 to $2.00. After consulting with many 
country storekeepers in the leading parts of Manitoba, I reckon 
that not less than 1,000 skins are shipped each year from the 
Province. It is a beautiful fur, but not durable enough for a 

The Canada Otter. 

Lutra canadensis (Schreber). 

(L. lutra, an Otter; canadensis, of Canada.) 

Mustela lutra canadensis ScHREB., 1776, Saug. pi., CXXVI B. 
Lutra canadensis Sabine, 1823, Franklin's Overland Journey, 

P- 653- 

Type Locality. — Eastern Canada. 

French Canadian, la Loutre du Canada. 
Cree, Ojib., & Saut., Ne-geek'. 
Montagnais (Gulf of St. Lawrence), Un'chuch. 
Chipewyan, Nop'-e-ay. 
Yankton Sioux, Pe-tang. 
Ogallala Sioux, Ptan. 

The Weasel Family or Mustelidce are carnivores of long 
form on short legs, with tail various, ears short, non-retractile 
claws, and teeth 32 to 38. 

The genus Lutra (Brisson, 1762) comprises Weasels of 
large size, with short legs, long tails; adapted for life in the 
water, having dense oily fur, webbed feet, etc. The teeth are 
as follows: 

inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. =26 

3,-3 i-i Z-i 2-2 

In addition to these characters, the Canada Otter has the 
feet with more or less hairy soles. 

The Muskrat is protected against the cold water by a 
fine robe of dense fur, the Whale by a thick layer of fat under 
the skin; the Otter is happy in the possession of both, and can 
enjoy the coldest of water in the coldest of weather. 


818 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Length, about 40 inches (1,000 mm.); tail, I2§ inches 
(317 mm.); hind-foot, 4 inches (102 mm.). 

A female collected by Dr. Merriam, on Birch Creek, 
Ida.,' August 14, 1890, weighed 19 pounds (82 kilograms); 
a young one with her weighed 10 pounds (42 kilograms); both 
were fat. 

In general, the colour is dark rich glossy brown, becoming 
paler and grayer below; the brown of the head and muzzle 
changes on lips, cheeks, chin, and throat, rather abruptly, into 
a pale brownish-gray, almost a grayish-white. Some specimens 
are much paler. 

In the American Museum is an albino, or nearly white, 
freak from Alaska. 

The following races are recognized: 

canadensis, the typical form. 

lataxina F. Cuvier, smaller. 

vaga Bangs, larger and redder than canadensis. 

pacifica Rhoads, pale in colour. 

sonora Rhoads, a large and yellowish race. 

Besides which are two closely allied insular forms: 

Lutra degener Bangs, very small; found in New- 

Lutra periclyzomce Elliot, a large kind from Queen 
Charlotte Islands. 


RANGE The range of this species includes nearly the whole conti- 

nent. It is, or was, found in all parts of Manitoba, though its 
numbers are greatly reduced there to-day. 
ENVIRON- Frequenting invariably the water, or the vicinity of water, 

MENT ^j^g Otter finds its ideal surroundings in good-sized clear 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 5, July, icSpi, p. 82. 


(Excluding the Sea-otter) 

This map is founded chiefly on records by E. Coues, C. Hart Merriam, D. G. Elliot. E. W. Nelson, R. MacFarlane. C. H. Townsend, E. A. 
Preble, J. Fannin, V. Bailey. A. P. Low, A. E. Verrill. 

The lines are fairly well established, except in the Southwest. I find no records for the unmarked region. Anticoste should have been tinted. 

The following are recognized: 

Luira canadensis (Schreber) with S races. Ltiira ixriclyzomae Elliot, 

Luira Jegenet Bangs, Lutra anneclcns Forsyth-Major, from Central America. 



820 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

streams that abound with fish, and that are much varied in 
bank and bed by pools, rapids, log-jams, and overhanging 
rocky banks. It never lives far from the water, and in summer- 
time never goes far overland, but in winter its habit changes 
somewhat. Then "it frequents rapids and falls, to have the 
advantage of open water; and when its usual haunts are 
frozen over, it will travel to a great distance through the snow 
in search of a rapid that has resisted the severity of the 
weather."^ {Richardson.) 

HOME- All trappers agree that the Canada Otter is a wide-ranging 

animal. The evidence goes to show that its habits bear a close 
resemblance to those of its British congener, and as this latter 
has been closely studied by many naturalists, it may well fur- 
nish important side-light. 

In Great Britain, it is well known to be a far traveller. 
T. W. Proger, of Cardiff, writes me: "I have known one to 
go 5 or 6 miles overland in a single night to a stream that 
promised good fishing. An Otter will range for 25 miles up 
and down a given river; and the scarcer the fish the farther he 

Merriam gives' a number of illustrations which tend to 
show that each Otter in the Adirondacks has a certain route 
or range that is his own little kingdom. Up this river to that 
branch, along that to the swamp, then across over the divide 
and down some rill to another river, along which it continues 
till another landmark, or possibly owner-mark of a rival, 
warns him that here he must turn and cross by that pond or 
the old fiimiliar rapid, to the point of beginning. This 
may take him two weeks to cover, and may be 50 miles in 

Kennicott credits* the Otter with following not merely a 
general course, but an exact pathway. He says: "In Minne- 
sota, I observed across a narrow isthmus separating two lakes 
a well-worn path, which had evidently been formed by Otter, 

» F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 57. ' Mam. .'\dir., 1S84, p. 88 

* Quad. 111., 1859, p. 247. 

The Canada Otter 821 

and they seem generally to follow beaten paths when moving abun- 
on land." i^a'^ce 

Possibly each individual has more than one of these routes. 

In Manitoba, the Otter is becoming very scarce; the 
high value of its fur has told hard against its numbers. In 
the palmy days at the beginning of last century, Henry col- 
lected from 100 to 300 skins each year on Red River. The 
present output of the region is much smaller. 

What, then, should be considered a fair population of 
Otter? In Essex, Eng. during the fall of 1904, I am told 
that 50 Otters were killed, though no one but the Otter 
hunters suspected their presence. As this 50 was far from 
exterminating them, there were probably at least 100 Otters in 
Essex, or one to each 16 square miles, and Great Britain, in 
like ratio, would show a total of 10,000 Otters. This is the 
reverse of a high rate of population. In Manitoba, they were 
very common at one time, as already noted, and I think it safe 
to say that in the primitive days there was an Otter for every 
5 or 6 square miles, or at the rate of 3 pairs to the township. 
At present I doubt that there are 300 pairs left in the Province. 

Like the rest of the family, the Otter is neither sociable socia- 


nor gregarious. The 3 or 4 that are often seen together in late 
summer are the mother and family. In their curious sport of 
sliding down hill, we possibly may find an exception to this 
rule, although some observers consider that the game is strictly 
an affair of the family or of mates. 

The species makes a variety of noises. It utters a loud sounds, 

. . . ETC. 

sniffing that sounds like clearing its nose of water, and it 
growls and snarls in menace. A female in the National Zoo 
at Washington, obtained in northern New York, often emitted 
a loud birdy chirp to express enquiry, desire, or hunger. Another 
female that I was sketching at the same time (April 28), made 
a low chatter or querulous grumble that seemed to express the 
same idea. The latter was from Florida. 

822 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

A captive Otter kept by J. K. MacDonald, of Winnipeg, 
in 1886, at Bersimis on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, used to utter 
such a piercing whistle that my informant repeatedly heard 
across the river (a mile and a half away), as plainly, he said, as 
he could hear a man whistle if in the same room with him. 
He knew of no other animal sound so shrill, save the scream of 
the eagle or the loon. 

MATING Most observers agree that the species pairs and that the 

mating season is towards the end of February. 

The British Otters bred in captivity by A. H. Cocks gave 
an admirable opportunity for observation. The female showed 
that she was willing to consider a proposal of marriage by leav- 
ing little piles of well-mouthed straw here and there in the cage. 
These, as with the Marten, he believes, are to call the attention 
of the male. In a state of nature they would be left at convenient 
spots along the banks of the river or other main line of travel. 

The male showed none of the savage ferocity of the male 
Marten. His behaviour, in general, was irreproachable. 

DEN "It digs a burrow on the bank at the edge of the stream 

or lake, with the entrance under water, like that of a Musk- 
rat. Its burrow is not so extensive, however, as that of the 
latter animal, and it never constructs a house of any kind. In 
a capacious chamber in its burrow, it forms a large soft nest 
of sticks, leaves, and grass; though sometimes it has been 
observed to take up its quarters in the bottom of a standing 
hollow tree or in a cavity in a fallen one."^ (Kenntcott.) 

The British Otter is known to have a kitchen-midden, or 
garbage hole, near the den door, but this admirable sanitary 
arrangement has not yet been observed in our own species. 

GESTA- The gestation of the British species was ascertained by 

A. H. Cocks to be 61 days. No doubt the period will be 
found about the same in canadensis. 

' Quad. 111., 1859, p. 247. 

The Canada Otter 823 

The young are born in mid-April, or sometimes as late young 
as May i. They usually number i to 3, but a female taken at 
Brokenhead and dissected by W. R. Hine contained 5 embry- 
onic young. These were the size of a small Striped-gopher, 
and must have been near full time, as it was late in April. At 
birth and for some weeks afterwards their eyes are closed. 
Their colour is said to be very dark brown, almost black. 
Probably they are not weaned till four months old, and at nine 
months they are fully adult. But one brood is reared each 

Much discussion has taken place over the question whether train- 

, ... ^ -r II- ING OF 

or not animals tram their young. It seems as though in very the 
ancient forms retaining primitive habits, the young need little ™™^ 
or no instruction from parents. Thus, an incubator duck will 
take to the water or snap at a fly when but a day old. On the 
other hand, those animals with highly specialized habits are 
slow to learn, and need some sort of stimulus. The young 
hawk or Weasel speedily learns to seize a bird, but the young 
osprey and Otter have departed further from the ancient way 
and are more in need of teaching. Whether this be conscious 
or unconscious on the part of the parents depends on our 
definition of these terms. 

An interesting picture of their nursery life has been given 
by J. G. Millais, who studied Otter in Canada and in England, 
though, unfortunately, he omits the dates and places that would 
have added so much to the value of his remarks. His account, 
no doubt, refers chiefly to the British Otter, but it is almost 
certain to be found applicable in the main to our own species, 
when fuller observation shall have enlightened us on the early 
history of the young. 

"As soon," he says," "as they can see, the mother Otter 
takes her cubs to the water and teaches them to swim. At 
first they are said to be very reluctant to enter the water, and 
as a preliminary training, she often makes an exit hole upon the 
bank above her holt, where she allows them to play and run 

" Mam. G. B. & I., 1905, II, pp. 19-20. 

824 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

about for a few days before enticing them to mount on her back 
and embark on a voyage of discovery. For the first few days 
in the water she swims with them, but soon dives and returns 
to them again and again, until she has induced them to copy 
her movements. 

"In their prehminary efi^orts at natation, young Otters 
are just as frightened as they can be, and keep querulously 
calling for their mother all the time she is out of sight. But at 
first she does not upset their baby natures, and only vanishes 
for a few minutes. As the young grow, these intervals become 
longer and longer, till she induces them to follow her in shallow 
water or in a still lake. I once had the good fortune to see an 
old female Otter playing with her three nearly full-grown 
young ones and evidently teaching them to dive. 

"She teaches them to dive noiselessly, to circle in deep 
pools, and how to come up quietly behind sleeping fish or drive 
them into holes in the banks. Then they are taught to stir the 
mud with their pads, or turn over stones for hidden miller's- 
thumbs, and bury their heads in the mud after eels, or how to 
corner the darting salmon. 

"That the swimming powers and the hunting of fish are 
acquired habits is shown by the fact that young Otters kept 
tame and allowed to run loose are almost full grown before they 
will take to the water; they grow up with Stoat-like habits, /. e., 
hunting for their food on land." 

A. H. Cocks says' of those (British) he bred in confine- 
ment that the young were blind until about 35 days old and 
entered the water of their own accord on the 58th day. 
He gives a suggestive account of the mother's efforts to make 
them eat two small fish, some four days later, "taking first 
one fish, then the other, then both together in her mouth, and 
moving them about close in front of the cubs to attract their 
attention, at the same time uttering a peculiar whine or growl." 

SUMMER During the summer, the Otter family, mother and young, 

may be seen travelling and hunting together. 

' Zoologist, 1882, p. 203. 

The Canada Otter 825 

A glimpse of their life at this time was secured by Bert A. 
Dobson, of the Adirondacks. 

One year, 1900, in early June, while fishing on Peavine 
Creek (Cranberry Lake), he saw a female Otter and two kits, 
one-third grown. She uttered a loud chirruping and, dashing 
down the creek, which was not deep enough for swimming, 
she led the young off, chirruping and clucking to them like 
a hen. 

In Algoma, the young are seen with the mother in June, 
July, August, September, October, November, and December, 
but usually only one is near. Linklater, my chief informant 
in that region, has known the mother and 3 young to be 
killed at one shot, in September. 

It is always important to know the relation that the father father 
bears to the family. Is he merely a selfish progenitor, con- 
cerned about his partner or partners only in the mating season } 
Or does he faithfully play the part of a helpmate and join with 
the mother in caring for the young. 

It is impossible to decide for the Otter. Most observers 
think that the species pairs, that is to say, is not polygamous, 
but that the bond is broken with the waning of the honey- 
moon. Miles Spencer expressly says* that, about Hudson 
Bay, the female gets no assistance from the male while rearing 
the young. Other field naturalists think that the male does 
sometimes join in caring for his ofi^spring. J. K. MacDonald, 
of Winnipeg, after many years among the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany's Posts, writes me: 

"I do not think the male is ever far away from his hole 
or family. The fact that the female is seen with the young 
more often than the male, I think, simply carries out the natural 
law of progeny being more directly under the care of the female, 
while the male roams about, but never is far away. In the 
cases cited of females only being seen, there is nothing to dis- 
prove that the males, though not visible to the seer, may have 
been within a few yards of him." 

' Low Expl. James Bay, Can. Geol. Surv., 1888, Pt. J, App. Ill, p. 77 J. 

826 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

On September 27, 1905, George Crawford, the Mattawa 
guide, came to my camp at a place 40 miles north-east of Mat- 
tawa, and told of 4 Otter that he had watched the day before 
on one of the small lakes near by. They were 2 old ones and 
2 young ones. He was quite sure that 2 were fully grown. 
Again, in October, 1904, Archie Miller saw 2 adults and 5 
young together at Blue Lake, Quebec. This looks as though 
the father did sometimes accompany the family. 

Nelson, in his "Natural History of Alaska,"' also says: 
"Toward the end of the winter they frequently make a burrow 
in a large snow-drift, and sometimes a party of 5 or 6 will be 
found occupying the place. Such parties usually consist of 
the 2 old ones and the last season's young." 

Thus there is some evidence that the male Otter does not 
entirely neglect the duties of paternity, though there can be no 
doubt that the mother has the heavier burden and sometimes 
bears it alone. The young continue in her care until the winter; 
probably the bond is broken by the coming on of the new mat- 
ing season in February. 

Like most of the family, this animal is chiefly nocturnal 
in habits, but can very often be seen hunting in broad day- 
light. It resembles its kindred also in its tireless activity. 
I do not think I ever saw an Otter lying still. The nearest to 
it are those that are busy feeding. When they rest I do not 
f^,l^' '^^ '^ eminently aquatic, more perfectly so than the Bea- 

ver, and its whole form is admirably adapted to a life in the 
water. The great weight of its bones, which would make it 
more clumsy on land, enables it to dive and swim under water 
with ease."'" So says Kennicott. 

In like strain also, the Chief Mittigwab, of Mattawa. He 
has several times tried to overtake the Otter while they were 
swimming in the open lake. Though paddling his best, about 
six miles an hour, he could not lessen the distance between. 
They swam like leeches, rolling over and under. He con- 

' 1887, p. 250. "> Quad. 111., 1859, p. 247. 


The Canada Otter 827 

siders that there is no creature so quick in the water as an 
Otter, except, perhaps, a loon. He tells me further that on 
September 17, he saw a young one and its mother capture a 
large speckled trout each, in Magnisipi River, Quebec, and, like 
all who have seen the Otter afloat, he gives enthusiastic ex- 
pression to his admiration of its powers. It darts and turns, 
diving or floating, with speed that none of the river tribes can 
excel. Not only the glancing trout, but also the lightning 
swift salmon, are at its mercy. These it meets fairly and 
squarely in their chosen grounds, the clearest, coolest swirls 
and deeps, or the open flood, and, rejoicing in a worthy foe, 
it beats them at their own game, and glories, we have excellent 
reason for believing, not less in the noble catch than in the 
noble sport. 

As well as quick, it is long-winded. A tame one belong- 
ing to "Antler" could remain under water for three or four 
minutes." Merriam says'^ that in this respect its abilities 
almost equal those of a loon, and he has known an Otter to 
swim nearly a quarter of a mile without showing its head 
above the surface. 

With such aquatic powers at command and with a keen 
sense of locality, it is easy to believe these hunters who maintain 
that the Otter can live for days under the ice of a lake, getting 
its breath at the cracks along shore. 

On the land, though less at home, it is far from being run- 


helpless. All the records show that in snow time it travels 
great distances across country, and can go so fast that it takes 
a swift-footed man to overtake it. 

The marvellous power of this species to propel itself on 
toboggan wise over the snow is something that I was deeply ^^°^^ 
impressed with when a child, in Toronto, about 1873. 

A citizen had a tame Otter that I was privileged to watch 
once or twice. I thought it the most beautiful creature I had 
ever seen, as it gambolled and dodged about the room in a 
spirit of good-natured frolic. It was entirely without the 
sullen ferocity of the Weasels, and when it was allowed to go 

" Forest and Stream, December ii, 1879. " Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 87. 

Fig. 202 — Otlcr posc-s, from life, 


The Canada Otter 829 

outdoors it rolled and tumbled in a snow-drift with evident 
delight. Sometimes it would run and slide on its breast with 
all its legs set backwards. Its progress at these times was 
singular, and continued for much longer than one might expect 
from the very slight push it began with. It seemed as though 
the muscles of the breast and belly were in some way helping 
it on, possibly the tail also aided with its sculling motion. 

Richardson, the great authority on our northern animals, 
says,'^ concerning its winter travel overland in search of open 
water: "If seen and pursued by hunters on these journeys, it 
will throw itself forward on its belly and slide through the 
snow for several yards, leaving a deep furrow behind it. This 
movement is repeated with so much rapidity that even a swift 
runner on snow-shoes has much trouble in overtaking it. It 
also doubles on its track with much cunning and dives under 
the snow to elude its pursuers." 

These very manoeuvres were described to me by Linklater. 
He has often seen Otter sliding on the level snow, and once 
when he came on one in the woods it dived into the drifts, 
which were deep, and came up 40 or 50 feet away. By doing 
this again and again it dodged both the man and the dog, 
although the latter was a good one and the former on snow- 
shoes, till it reached a small lake; unfortunately for the Otter, 
this was frozen over, and on the ice the hunter killed it with 
a small club. It was a male Otter, and the time about the 
first of December. 

"On the ice [says Merriam]'^ they proceed by a series of 
what small boys called 'a run and a slide,' that is, they make 
several jumps and then slide ahead, flat on their bellies as far 
as their impetus and the smoothness of the ice permits, and 
then do the same thing over again, and so on." I may add 
that this seems to be their regular mode of progression, whether 
on land or water, ice or snow. 

This method of travel brings us to a remarkable habit for '^™^ 
which the Otter is celebrated. All hunters and naturalists m 
Eastern America record its singular amusement of coasting or 

" F. B. A., 1829, I, pp. 57-8. " Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 89. 

830 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

tobogganing down a steep hill, preferably into the water, to 
remount at once and repeat the performance again and again, 
in company, perhaps, with its mate or young. 

It is delightful proof of growth and uplift when we find 
an adult animal setting aside a portion of its time and effort 
for amusement, and especially for social amusement. A large 
number of the noblest animals thus relax from sordid life and 
pursue amusement with time and appliances after a fashion 
that finds its highest development in man. This is what the 
Otter is credited with doing, but there are naturalists who do 
not consider it proven. Therefore I give the evidence in full. 

"The Otter is very fond of play, and one of their favourite 
pastimes is to get on a high ridge of snow, bend their fore- 
feet backward, and slide down the side of it, sometimes to the 
distance of twenty yards. "'^ {Heame.) 

"Their favourite pastime is sliding, and for this purpose in 
winter the highest ridge of snow is selected, to the top of which 
the Otters scramble, where, lying on the belly with the fore- 
feet bent backwards, they give themselves an impulse with their 
hind-legs and swiftly glide head-foremost down the declivity, 
sometimes for the distance of twenty yards."'" {Godman.) 

This looks like a passage borrowed from Hearne, but he 
adds, "This sport they continue, apparently with the keenest 
enjoyment, until fatigue or hunger induces them to desist." 

"In the summer this amusement is obtained by selecting a 
spot where the river bank is sloping, has a clayey soil, and the 
water at its base is of a comfortable depth. The Otters then 
remove from the surface, for the breadth of several feet, the 
sticks, roots, stones, and other obstructions, and render the 
surface as level as possible. They climb up the bank at a less 
precipitous spot and, starting from the top, slip with velocity 
over the inclining ground and plump into the water to a depth 
proportioned to their weight and rapidity of motion. After a 
few slides and plunges the surface of the clay becomes very 
smooth and slippery, and the rapid succession of the sliders 
shows how much these animals are delighted by the game, as 

"Journey, 1792, p. 376. '"Am. Nat. Hist., 1826, Vol. I, pp. 225-6. 

The Canada Otter 831 

well as how capable they are of performing actions which have 
no other object than that of pleasure or diversion." 

"This statement," say Audubon and Bachman," "is con- 
firmed by * * * recent writers who have given the history of 
this species, and is in accordance within our own personal 

"The Otters ascend a bank suitable for their diversion, 
and sometimes where it is very steep, so that they are obliged 
to make quite an effort to gain the top; they slide down in 
rapid succession where there are many at a sliding place. On 
one occasion we were resting ourselves on the bank of Canoe 
Creek, a small stream near Henderson, which empties into the 
Ohio, when a pair of Otters made their appearance and, not 
observing our proximity, began to enjoy their sliding pastime. 
They glided down the soap-like muddy surface of the slide 
with the rapidity of an arrow from a bow, and we counted 
each one making 22 slides before we disturbed their sportive 

"This habit of the Otter of sliding down from elevated in all 

- . LATI- 

places to the borders of streams is not confined to cold countries, tudes 
or to slides on the snow or ice, but is pursued in the Southern 
States, where the earth is seldom covered with snow, or the 
waters frozen over. Along the reserve dams of the rice-fields 
of Carolina and Georgia these slides are very common. From 
the fact that this occurs in most cases during the winter, about 
the period of the rutting season, we are inclined to the belief 
that this propensity may be traced to those instincts which lead 
the sexes to their periodical associations." 

Kennicott follows with these remarks;'' "It climbs to 
the top of some steep bank, made slippery by the mud and 
water from its own body, or, in winter, by snow and ice, and, 
lying down, with its fore-feet bent under, slides headlong to the 
bottom. Trappers inform me that they have often seen the 
Otter thus engaged for an hour or more, scrambling eagerly 
to the top again after each descent, and greatly enjoying the 
sport. By using their knowledge of this peculiarity, the hunters 

" Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 8. " Quad, 111., 1859, pp. 247-8. 




Fic. 203— O Iter tracks, from caged specimen in Washinftton Zoo. 

The Canada Otter 833 

sometimes succeed in shooting or trapping the Otter at its 
sliding place, which may be easily recognized." 

Similar testimony is supplied by my Adirondack guide, 
Bert A. Dobson. 

One day in September, he was hunting Deer near Cran- 
berry Lake, N. Y., and heard a loud splashing. On crawling 
near he saw 3 Otter (mother and 2 young) shooting down a 
slide into the water. They did it two or three times each 
before they smelt him and dashed into a hole. 

Wherever I seek in Eastern America I find corroboration 
of this. Archie Miller, guide, from Mattawa, says that he has 
seen hundreds of these slides, and, no later than October, 1904, 
he watched a family of Otters at their slide at Blue Lake, 40 
miles north-east of Mattawa. These were 2 old and 5 young 
ones. They slid down, rapidly climbing up again to slide 
down as before, for a full hour. 

They are far from restricting this sport to snow time, 

Kennicott says further: "This curious habit seems to be slide at 
indulged in by the Otter at all times, when a suitable place can seasons 
be found, though more in the love season [late February] than 
any other." 

Chief Mittigwab, after spending a lifetime in Otter 
country and seeing many Otter, says that they slide all the year 
round, for amusement; usually, but not always, at special 
places, most in the snow, during spring and fall. Archie 
Miller corroborates this in every detail. 

At Swan Lake, Man., James M. Macoun saw slides that 
were in use during August, and J. G. Millais says of these 
'chutes''^ that he found numerous in Newfoundland, where he 
counted no fewer than 6 on one quiet brook flowing into St. 
John's Lake at the head of the Terra Nova River: 

"All the slides I have examined in Newfoundland had 
been freshly used and were polished smooth, with the grass and 
moss all worn away, showing that they had been in constant 
use all the summer." 

'"Mam. G. B. & I., 1905, Vol. II, p. 21. 

834 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Thus each new scrap of testimony shows the sport farther 
removed from the influence of sex and season. And sport the 
exercise is — just as surely as is that of the small boy who drags 
his sled to the top of a hill for the pleasure of shooting down 
again, of having the delicious sensation of speed without effort. 
And whether the Otter slides from the top of a mere snow- 
drift into the adjoining hollow, or down a muddy bank into a 
stream, or, best of all, down a long icy hill, to plunge into deep 
cool water below, it is evidently done for sport, for the joy of 
feeling itself flying through space without labour and without 
violence, and with the very same exhilaration that such a thing 
would give to mankind. To this the creature fails not to add 
the crowning charms of good company and of friendly rivalry, 
for, so far as I can learn, no one has ever yet seen an Otter 
enjoying its slide alone. 

It is the rule for young animals to play together, and occa- 
sionally the full-grown will indulge in a good-natured sham 
fight or a chase, for sport, but this is the only case I know 
of among American quadrupeds where the entire race, young 
and old, unite to keep up an institution that is not connected 
in any way with the instincts of feeding, fighting, or multiply- 
ing, but is simply maintained as an amusement. 

Thus the case of the Otter in Eastern America has been 
fully set forth, but it is a remarkable fact that Sir John Richard- 
son, who lived for years in the Great Lone Land, says not a 
word about the Otter's toboggan slides, though he describes 
its habits at length; Hearne's remarks I have quoted, but I can 
find no other hunter west of Lake Nipissing who has ever seen 
an Otter sliding for amusement, while I find many reliable 
naturalists of the North-west, notably Roderick MacFarlane, 
who have but little faith in it. 

DRY After remarking on numerous examples of Otter slides in 

LOWS the Adirondacks, Dr. Merriam writes-" also "of their wallowing 

places, which are either level beds or slight depressions in 

^ Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 89. 

The Canada Otter 835 

which they play and roll. May's Lake, a small and secluded 
body of water abounding in trout, is fairly surrounded by 

These I have never seen, nor do I find them commented 
on by other naturalists. 

The species is no exception to the rule that no animal can climb- 
reach the highest development in more than one sphere. It 
is a king in aquatics, but on land is the least active of the Family 
except the Sea-otter, and I read with surprise J. G. Millais's 
statement that the Canada Otter commonly climbs trees." 

This animal is pre-eminently a fish eater, yet at times food 
varies its diet in many ways, feeding on frogs, crayfish, and 
shell-fish. "Crayfish, indeed," says Kennicott," "sometimes 
form a considerable portion of its food, being taken in the water 
like fish. I have observed this to be the case when examining 
its excrement in Minnesota. * * * I have reason to suppose 
that it sometimes devours the Muskrats, in the house of which 
it is occasionally found in the Western prairie lakes and 
marshes. It would probably eat any flesh when impelled by 
hunger, but it has never been known to devour vegetables of 
any kind when in a state of nature." 

Merriam corroborates the crayfish item, stating that:"' 
"The numbers of crayfish {Camharus) that the Otter destroys 
in the course of a summer is almost incredible. The Otter 
'sign' that one finds so abundantly about our lakes and 
streams, on rocks and logs, often consist wholly of fragments of 
the chitinous exoskeleton of the Crustacean. At other times 
fish-bones are mingled with the broken crayfish shells. * * * 
When unable to procure these in sufficient quantity, it devours 
frogs, and is said to depopulate the poultry yard, and even 
prey upon lambs. * * * In confinement it will eat meat and 
is said to prefer it boiled." Richardson states*^ that: "In the 
spring of 1826, at Great Bear Lake, the Otters frequently 

" Mam. G. B. & I., Vol. II, 1905, p. 18. " Quad. 111., 1859, p. 247. 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 88. " F. B. A., 1829, p. 58. 


836 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

robbed our nets, which were set under the ice, at a distance 
of a few yards from open water. They generally carried off 
the heads of the fish and left the bodies sticking in the nets." 
FISH ITS It is known to eat wild fowl, and doubtless, when pinched, 

will relish any kind of animal food. All of these, however, 
must be considered mere accidental variations, or emergency 
rations, on its real bill of fare, for nine-tenths at least of its 
food the year round is undoubtedly fish, the finest and freshest 
at that; not mud-cats, swinish carp, or logy suckers, but the 
sweetest and swiftest of all — the superb trout and the regal 

The Otter IS the fisherman par excellence; it is the success- 
ful fisherman, and therefore it is the hated of all other fishermen. 

MENTAL- Mentally this animal is at the head of its group. 'The 


most intelligent of the Family,' is the verdict of all who have 
studied all the Weasels, for the Otter is nothing but a big 
water Weasel. "From the nature of its habits and its sagac- 
ity," says Merriam,^^ "it is likely to remain after most of the 
other representatives of the Mustelidae have been exterminated." 
I wish it were so, and yet experience in Manitoba leads one 
to believe otherwise. The Skunk, the Mink, and the Ermine 
seem as abundant as ever, but the Otter is becoming a rarity. 

PLAYFUL- At all ages Otters are playful animals. They chase each 

other in tireless games of tag, and sport and roll in the water 
like porpoises. If caught young they are readily reared and 
become the most fascinating of pets. It has been my luck to 
meet with two or three tame Otters, and in each case I was 
left with a profound admiration for the grace and playfulness 
of this exquisitely beautiful creature. On watching a gambol- 
ling Fox cub, a Fawn, an ocelot, a Marten, or even a well- 
furred pet Skunk, one is apt to be carried away and declare 
each in turn the most beautiful and graceful creature ever seen. 
But when all are gone from view, when nothing but the dim 
impression remains, it is the Otter that stands out pre-eminently 

■^ Loc. cil. 

The Canada Otter 837 

as the most beautiful and engaging of all elegant pets. There 
seems no end to its fun, its energy, its drollery, its good-nature, 
and its postures of new and surprising grace. I never owned 
a pet Otter, but I never yet saw one without shamefully in- 
fringing article number ten of the Decalogue. 

J. K. MacDonald writes me: "They make delightful 
pets. A tame Otter at York Factory, Hudson Bay, in 1871, 
used to lie about the Fort among the dogs. On first living 
among them several of them tried issue with him, only to find 
that he left souvenirs of the struggle on their legs, etc. The 
remaining dogs, benefiting by the experience of their friends, 
made no further attack on him, and so he moved around among 
them quite nonchalantly. He used to take long swims in the 
river, both to enjoy the pleasure of swimming and get some 
fresh fish of his own killing. He always returned and slept 
inside the Fort pickets. No doubt, at the mating season, he 
would have left if at large. This we were not permitted to 
prove, as a strange Indian arriving close to the Fort, saw what 
he thought was a wild Otter, and so he shot it." 

"In growing old, however, they are apt to become ugly, 
and have been known to bite those who attempt to play with 
them." (Merrtam.) 

The Otter is a valiant beast. During its overland or a 


oversnow journey in search of open water, if closely pressed 
by pursuit, it will turn on any assailant and defend itself with 
marvellous courage and power. Its gifts as a fighter are ably 
seconded by its protective armour of fur, hide, and fat, and it is 
very doubtful whether there ever lived a dog that could conquer 
an Otter in fair single fight. 

"At all times and all occasions, furthermore, they manifest 
an insatiate and unaccountable desire to break the peace with 
any dog that chances to cross their path. 

"If the misunderstanding occurs in the vicinity of the 
water, as it commonly does, there is a strong tendency for the 
participants to drift nearer and nearer the shore, for thither- 
wards the Otter artfully draws his antagonist. I have never 

838 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

witnessed one of these little altercations, but am told that a 
drowned dog is generally the result."^" {Merriam.) 

Otter hunters in Europe tell me that such is the power of 
its bite, that it is not a rare thing for an Otter to crush a hound's 
leg-bone in its jaws. 

The most desperate achievement accredited to this animal 
appears in Nelson's "Alaska":*' 

"An Otter [he says] was one of the chief actors in a strange 
accident which occurred near the Yukon mouth during my 
residence in the north. A hunter went out to inspect his fish 
traps, and, failing to return in the course of a day or so, his 
friends began to look for him. He was found lying dead by 
the side of a small lake with his throat torn open and the tail of 
a dead Otter firmly grasped in both hands. One of the Otter's 
feet was fast in a steel fox-trap, and it was supposed that on 
his way home the hunter came across the Otter in the trap and, 
having no weapon with him and being a powerful young man, 
he tried to swing the Otter over his head and kill it by dashing it 
against the ground, but when in mid-air it turned suddenly and 
caught him by the throat, with the result as described." 

CAPT- This fur-bearer is usually taken with a steel trap and fish- 

head bait, but traps that do not kill are cruel, and humanity 
would force all trappers back to the old deadfalls of a hundred 
years ago. My friend, A. W. Dimock, writes me thus from 
Punta Rassa, Fla.: 

"Last year (1905) I held a fiercely struggling Otter crushed 
into the mud with a forked stick, while the cruel steel trap was 
taken from her lacerated leg and a cage placed over her. Two 
days later she ate her new-born pups, and in two days more, 
despite every attention, she died of grief and pain. Now I 
would make the use of a steel trap a penal ofTence and wearing 
pelt of a trapped wild creature a misdemeanour." 

In some parts of the country Otter are killed by taking ad- 
vantage of the sliding habit. Having found the slide, the hunter 

»» Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 90. 

" Nat. Hist. Alaska, 1887, p. 250. 


The Canada Otter 839 

may lurk in ambush for the tobogganing party and shoot one, 
or perhaps two, before they can escape from range. 

If its trail is discovered in the winter snow, when evidently 
the creature is frozen out of its safe refuge, the hunter follows, 
and within a mile or two he usually gets an opportunity to 
shoot the portaging voyageur. 

The fur of the Otter is cased. It is one of the best, hand- 
somest, and most durable in the market. No matter how others 
fluctuate, the price of Otter is always fairly high. The Winni- 
peg market quotations for March 26, 1904, were: Prime 
Otter, $6 to $12. 

At the London annual fur sales, held at Lampson's, 
March, 1906, 2,517 Otters were sold. The highest price 
reached was 210 shillings ($50.40) each, for 22 unusually good 
black, first-class Labrador skins. The run of first-class dark 
skins brought from 100 shillings ($24) to 150 shillings ($36), 
and with 60 shillings ($14.40) as the run of ordinary dark 
Otter, from which, according to size and colour, they graded 
down as low as 10 shillings ($2.40) and 5 shillings ($1.20). 

During the eighty-five years, 1821 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 890,901 skins of this species, 
an average of 10,481 for each year. The lowest was 3,795 in 
1829; the highest, 18,100, in 1830. The average for the ten 
years, 1895 to 1905, was 8,898. 

Poland's lists show that during the seventy-one years, 1821 
to 1 891 inclusive, 444,372 skins were taken by the other 
American companies, an average of 6,258 each year. So that 
the average annual catch of Otter for fur is about 17,000. 


Common Weasel, Short-tailed Weasel or Ermine of 
the Woods; Bonaparte Weasel; Brown Weasel. 

Putorius cicog7ianii (Bonaparte). 

(L. Putorius, see ante; cicognanii, named in honor of Felice Cicognani, an Italian.) 

Mustela cicognanii Bonaparte, 1838, Iconogr. Faun. Ital. I, 

fasc. XXII, p. 4. 
Putorius cicognanii RiCHARDSON, 1 839, Zoology of Beechey's 

Voyage, p. 10. 
Type Locality. — North-eastern North America. 

French Canadian, VHcrmine; le Roselet; la Belette 

de Bonaparte. 
Cree, Saut., & OjIB., Shing-givus'. 
Chipewyan, Tel-ky'-lay. 
Yankton Sioux, He-tong-ka-ska. 
Ogallala Sioux, He-tu-kah'-san. 

This is the common Weasel about barnyards near the 
woods in Manitoba. At a short distance, in summer coat, it 
looks like a brown Squirrel with a white throat and paws, and 
a very small tail; it is mostly seen on the ground. 

In addition to the generic characters {Putorius, see p. 872) 
it has the following: 

Length, 12 inches (305 mm.); tail, 4 inches (102 mm.); 
hind-foot, i^ inches (38 mm.). 

The female may be one-fifth or even one-fourth smaller. 

General colour above, dark brown; tip third of tail black; 
no dark spot behind corners of mouth; under parts, including 
upper lip, chin, throat and front feet, white, sometimes tinged 
with yellow; hind-feet, pale brownish-white. 


Short-tailed Weasel 841 

In winter it becomes the Ermine; it is now pure white 
with a yellowish tinge on rump, tail, and under parts; the 
black tail tip continues unchanged. 

The change from brown to white is, of course, to enable change 
the animal to live and hunt in the snow without being visible colour 
to all the creatures it would prey on. The change is effected 
by a moult, and, in Manitoba, occurs about the middle of Octo- 
ber each year, without reference to the weather or the presence 
of snow, so that it is no uncommon thing to see a Weasel of 
dazzling whiteness running over the brown prairie or in the 
woods still carpeted with dead leaves. 

The yellow tinge is believed to be partly, at least, external 
staining from the smell-glands with which the creature is so 
generously outfitted. 

As late as mid-April, I have found them in full winter 
pelage. Soon after this they appear in the brown and white 
of the summer coat. 

The following races are recognized: 

cicognanii Bonaparte, the typical form. 

richardsoni Bonaparte, much larger. 

alascensis Merriam, like richardsoni, but white tips 

of feet more extensive and interorbital region 

very much broader. 

The three species of Weasels found in Manitoba may be thus the 
distinguished when in summer pelage (all are white in winter) : kinds 

1st. The Long-tailed Weasel {P. longicauda), the size of 
a small Mink, with tail 6 inches, or more, in length; lower 
parts, buff or pale yellow. 

2nd. The Short-tailed Weasel {P. cicognanii), much 
smaller, about 12 inches long, with tail about 4 inches long, 
and lower parts white. 

3rd. The Least Weasel (P. rixosus), still smaller, almost 
as small as a Mouse, about 6 inches, with tail i inch long, 
without any black tip; lower parts, white. 


i provisional. TIic range of orclicus must he modified in all borders — and that of cirngnanii is 

, R. MacFarlane, C 

This map is diaKranin 
in the south and south-wcsi. 

It is foun.h-d (hictlv on Merriam's Synopsis with records by J. Richardson, R. Kcnnicott, E. \V. N. 
O. Bangs, (i. S. Mill< r, S. X. Rhoads, A. P. Low, J. P. Howley, E. A. Preble. C. C. Adams, D. G. Elliot. 

little known 
B. Hagstcr, 

The following are entered: 

Putorius cicognanii (Bonaparte) with 3 races, 

Putorius microtis Allen, 

Putorius arcticus Merriam with 2 races, 

Emmons with 3 1 

Short-tailed Weasel 843 

There is another from which it should be carefully dis- 
tinguished, that is the New York Weasel, or Blacktailed Weasel 
{P. noveboracensis Emmons), familiar to many in Ontario. In 
contrast, these are the points: 

cicognmiii has tail \ of total length; terminal \ of 
tail, black; under parts, pure white in summer. 

noveboracensis has tail \ of total length; terminal 2 
of tail, black; under parts, in summer, often yel- 
low, and a brown spot back of the mouth — some- 
times this island becomes a peninsula. This is 
about \ larger than the preceding. For range, 
see dotted line on map No. 45. 


The range of this Weasel extends in the great coniferous range 
forest from the Atlantic to the Pacific, thus taking in all of 
Manitoba except the true prairie region. 

This is a forest animal, found chiefly on the ground, but envi- 
capable of climbing, when it must, with quickness little inferior ment 
to that of the Squirrel. Though a wood-dweller, I have seen 
it a mile from cover on the open prairie, where it seemed very 
much at home in the holes of the Striped Ground-squirrel 
(C trtdecemltneatus). 

The habit of all Weasels, as far as known, is to quarter home- 
themselves on a good cover or game range, killing everything 
they can catch, until driven out by a stronger one or till their 
havoc has spoiled the hunting; then they travel on in search of 
new grounds. They will go a mile or two in a night, and ap- 
parently without clear intention. If they find a barnyard, or a 
promising place of any kind, they remain and slaughter as 
before. If they be killed, the place may continue unweaselled 
for months, but another wandering devil is likely to appear and' 
repeat the destruction of the first. 

There is, no doubt, a limit to the wandering of the Weasel, 
otherwise each species would be continental in range, but I do 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

not know where the limit is drawn. The argument of analogy 
would lead us to believe that in the case of the Brown Weasel, 
a ten-mile round would probably represent the wanderings of 
the individual. 


There are doubtless several Weasels to each square mile 
in the wooded country. I found this species common about 

Fig. 204 — Head of Short-tailed Weasel ^. 

Sketched in the flesh rA Winnipeg. Aug. 25. 1904 (life size). This is somewhat abnonnal 

Carberry, Dauphin, Winnipeg, and Ingolf. Kennicott says 
it appears to be abundant along Red River. 

In the winter of igoo-i, it was extraordinarily numerous 
in Manitoba. 

George H. Measham writes me from Woonona, Shoal 
Lake, January 17, 1901 : "Charles Tweddell has trapped over 
40 of them just around the shore where the boats were. It 
is strange how these animals seem suddenly to get numerous 
and as suddenly disappear." 

R. MacFarlane records' that in 1903 the Hudson's Bay 
Company exported 33,883 Ermine skins; probably half were 
of this species. But this destruction makes no obvious differ- 
ence in their numbers. 

' Mam. N. W. Tcr., Proc. U. S. N. M., Vol. XXVIII, 1905, p. 713. 

Short-tailed Weasel 845 

The Weasels of this group are neither sociable nor grega- socia- 
rious; they are, indeed, an unlovely lot, no matter how we look ^^^^''^ 
at them. 

Nevertheless, for guidance of future observers, it may be stoat 
well to remember that the British Stoat, their near kinsman, is 
known to unite in numbers on occasion for the common good. 
Thus E. T. Booth records^ a case of 20 to 30 uniting to attack 
a terrier dog. Other cases are recorded of their attacking 
men. And Millais refers' to the well-known fact that a pack 
of 6 or 8 will unite to hunt. 

There is little doubt that the insufferable smell of the inter- 
'stinking' Weasels was developed originally as a method of nic.v 
intercommunication, as a means of getting at their friends; '^^^^ 
though not a few, notably the Skunk, and in a less degree the 
present one, have carried it so far that they now find it an 
effectual means of getting at their enemies. 

The sharply demarked white and brown with the black 
tail-tip are believed to be the uniform or directive marks of 
this species. They are shown by no other mammal of the size 
in North America. So far as I know, they are not civilized 
enough to use the smell-telephone (see Wolf). 

All of the Weasels growl, snarl, hiss or puff, or utter a voice 
reiterated sharp sound, which is like a bark in the large species 
and a shrill screech in the small ones, and record is made 
herein later of a female, presumably of the present kind, calling 
her young by a "sort of grumbling coo." 

British Stoats, according to Millais,' "will stop and bark for 
a long time at some object that puzzles them." When playing, 
Stoats give out a chuckling, happy sound, uttered in a high and 
a low key. When angry, they make a loud chattering noise, and, 
when hunting in packs and in full cry, are said to 'give tongue.' 

Little is known of the mating of this animal. There is mating 
some reason for believing it takes place about the third week 

' Field, October 6, 1883. 

' Mam. G. B. & I., 1905, Vol. II, p. 122-3. * ^^^^- 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of March and that the species pairs; but the male does not 
trouble his head about wife or family after the love season is 
over — though there may be some exceptions to this, as the 
following cases show: 

Charles G. D. Roberts tells me that one day when he was 
a boy, living in Westmoreland County, N. B., he was sitting 
in a field near a stone heap, by the edge of Tantramar 
Marsh, when two large Weasels (Ermine) came out of the 
stone pile and ran round him in a manner so threatening that 

Fib 20S — skulls of Short tailed Weasel. 
J ^dult male. 
4. Adult female. 

From C. H. .Merri.ims Synopsis, N. A. Fau.13, No. 11. 1C96. Plates II. and p. 
Survey. U. S. Dept. of Agricullure. 

Cuts supplied liy the Biological 

he was afraid of them. He remained very still and at length 
they disappeared into the stone pile. He took them for a pair, 
as they were obviously associated, and he thinks the nest was 
in the pile. As cicognanii is the only species of the size known 
from New Brunswick, the identification is good. 

E. A. Samuels records' having seen a pair of fV easels pur- 
suing a Chipmunk about the middle of June, 1901, near Ford- 
ham, N. Y. The present was probably the species he saw, 
and the fact that two were united at that season for a common 
purpose is a shred of evidence that the species pairs. 

John Burroughs tells me that one summer, fifty-five years 
ago, when he was a boy in the Catskills, he saw 2 old Weasels 
and 3 young ones together run across an open lane. 

'Forest and Stream, July 27, 1901. 

short-tailed Weasel 847 

The following note, which I made on a pair of Black- 
footed Ferrets at the New York Zoological Park, may be ad- 
duced as collateral evidence, for mating habits do not vary 
much in the same family: The male Ferret is very aggressive. 
He utters a loud, harsh, barking a dozen times in rapid succes- 
sion, also a loud hissing. Nothing enrages him more than any 
interference with the female. As this is true the year round, it 
points to permanent mating. 

From these facts, then, we must assume that this Weasel 
pairs and that the male, sometimes at least, takes an interest 
in the young. 

The only detailed evidence I can find on the dens of this dens 
Weasel is as follows: 

John Burroughs, in November, 1893, saw a Brown Weasel 
carrying Mice into its burrow, as narrated in the paragraph on 
storage. He dug after it for several hours one day. Next 
day he returned with better tools and tried again, moving over 
a ton of rooty earth and exposing many more galleries, but 
finding no larder. He found, however, several little "ex- 
pansions and at last one of his banqueting halls, a cavity about 
the size of one's hat, arched over by a network of fine tree 
roots. The occupant evidently lodged or rested here also. 
There was a warm, dry nest made of leaves and fur of Mice 
and Moles. I took out two or three handfuls. In finding this 
chamber I had followed one of the tunnels around till it brought 
me within a foot of the original entrance. A few inches to one 
side of this cavity there was what I took to be a back alley 
where the Weasel threw his waste; there were large masses of 
wet, decaying fur here, and fur pellets such as are regurgitated 
by hawks and owls. In the nest there was the tail of a Flying- 
squirrel, showing that the Weasel sometimes had this game 
for supper or dinner."" After this the Weasel's labyrinth 
seemed to grow more complicated as well as expand to include 
the neighbouring country, and the digger had to give it up 
without finding the store of Mice. 

" Squirrels and Other Fur-bearers, 1900, pp. 77-8. 

848 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

A burrow so extensive, Burroughs thinks, must have been 
the work of many seasons, and therefore a permanent home of 
this Weasel. 

sANiTA- One of the most interesting features in it was the midden- 


heap. When we find an animal far enough advanced to purify 
its nest by appointing and keeping apart a place for garbage 
and filth, we must honour it for having advanced the first 
degree in sanitation, and even for having taken a step towards 

GESTA- The period of gestation in our Ermine is unknown, but 

A. H. Cocks found it to be about 40 days in the British 

YOUNG The young number from 4 to 8, are usually 5 or 6, and 

doubtless, like Stoats, they are blind for some nine days after 

In her ordinary life the old Weasel walks to and fro, far 
and near, throughout the earth seeking whom she may de- 
stroy; but in spring, as we see, she responds to the home 
love, and for a time is chained to the nest with the young. 
She hides them with care, nurses them with tender and truly 
musteline assiduity, and guards them with a marvellous 
courage, until in late summer when they are about six or eight 
weeks old; then they are strong enough to follow her about, 
and she resumes her travels at the head of her half-dozen bud- 
ding cutthroats, and leaves a trail of destruction still wider 
than before. 

On June 28, at my home in Connecticut, John Crawford saw 
in a dry stone wall by my house an old Weasel {novchoracensts) 
and 5 young ones about half grown. She ran across an open 
space to the woodshed, where she called the young ones in a 
"sort of grumbling coo." Each time she did so they popped 
out their heads. 

Crawford tried to hit them with a stick. The mother ran 
forward a number of times, calling the young to come, and at 
last dashed back into the wall where they were. As we saw no 

Short-tailed Weasel 849 

more of them, the old one doubtless went on with her band 
of pirates. 

In the case observed by John Burroughs, the mother 
showed her ready devotion, for he fired at the young ones, 
wounding one of them so it could not run, but the mother 
seized it in her mouth and bore it away to safety. 

As already noted, the father, in some cases at least, is 
active in the care of the young. 

So far as known, there is but one brood each year. 

At Carberry, I have often seen this energetic little creature habits 
seeking for Mice in the deep, soft snow. Its actions are much 
like those of an Otter pursuing salmon. Sometimes it galloped 
along a log or over an icy part of the drift; then plunged out 
of sight in a soft place, to reappear many yards away, bound- 
ing here and there, over and under, restless and tireless as 
the waves of the sea — forever changing his place, pose and 
direction, an embodiment of lithe grace and endless assiduity. 
At such times, if he disappears in some crevice, hole, or maze, 
he is easily persuaded to come forth again, if you remain still 
and squeak like a Mouse. 

The smell of blood must be as far reaching as it is attrac- 
tive to these sanguinary little creatures. I have frequently 
hung new-killed Rabbits and partridges temporarily in trees, 
and, after an absence in some cases of a few minutes only, have 
found an Ermine mauling the game, though there was no sign 
of such a visitor when the cache was made. 

The Weasels have the unloveliest disposition of all our 
wild animals. Outside of their strength and courage, we find 
in them little to admire. Most other animals have a well- 
marked home-region and friends, but the ordinary life of a 
Weasel is that of a wandering demon of carnage. Dr. Coues 
has tersely summed up Weasel, body and soul, in a few char- 
acteristic lines:' 

"A glance at the physiognomy of the Weasel would suffice 
to betray their character. The teeth are almost of the highest 

' Fur-bearing Animals, 1877, p. 129. 

850 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

known raptorial character; the jaws are worked by enormous 
masses of muscles covering all the sides of the skull. The fore- 
head is low, and the nose is sharp; the eyes are small, pene- 
trating, cunning, and glitter with an angry green light. There 
is something peculiar, moreover, in the way that this fierce face 
surmounts a body extraordinarily wiry, lithe, and muscular. 
It ends in a remarkably long and slender neck, in such a way 
that it may be held at right angles with the axis of the latter. 
When the creature is glancing around, with the neck stretched 
up and the flat triangular head bent forward, swaying from 
one side to the other, we catch the likeness in a moment — it is 
the image of a serpent." 

The thugs of India claim to be devotees of the Goddess of 
Destruction; and profess, therefore, that it is their duty to kill as 
many human beings as possible. The Weasel is the Thug of 
the Wild World. While other animals may kill to excess for 
the gratification of appetite, the Weasels alone seem to revel in 
slaughter for its own sake, to find unholy joy in the horrors of 
dying squeak, final quiver, and wholesale destruction. Gifted 
with tremendous strength and activity; at home in the tree 
top, under the snow, on the earth, under ground, or in the 
water; keen of wits, tireless of wind and limb, insatiably cruel 
and madly courageous, they are all too well equipped for 
their chosen Herodian task. 

The Weasel preys on every kind of bird and beast that it 
can master, and this means everything from turkey and 
Rabbit down to tomtit and Shrew. On the list of its prey 
we find recorded all kinds of domestic poultry, all wild birds 
that it can catch, Rats, Mice, Squirrels, Chipmunks, etc. It 
is the most villainous of murderers when it finds an open way 
to the chicken house. 

Bachman tells" of 40 well-grown fowls having been "killed 
in one night by a single Ermine. Satiated with the blood of 
probably a single fowl, the rest, like the flock slaughtered by 
the Wolf in the sheepfold, were destroyed in obedience to a 
law of nature, an instinctive propensity to kill. We have 

» Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol, II, p. 58. 


Drawn by E. T. Seton, to illustrate Audubon and Bachman's incident of the Brown Weasel that wantonly massacred the 

Chipmunk family. 

Short-tailed Weasel 851 

traced the footsteps of this blood-sucking little animal on the 
snow, pursuing the trail of the American Rabbit, and although 
it could not overtake its prey by superior speed, yet the timid 
Hare soon took refuge in the hollow of a tree, or in a hole dug 
by the Marmot or Skunk. Thither it was pursued by the 
Ermine and destroyed, the skin and other remains at the mouth 
of the burrow bearing evidence of the fact." 

Kennicott records" that "in a single night and the early 
part of the following evening one of these killed nearly 50 
chickens, several of which were adults, and many half grown." 

"Wherever the Ermine has taken up its residence," says 
Bachman,'" "the Mice in its vicinity for half a mile around 
have been found rapidly to diminish in number. Their active 
little enemy is able to force its thin vermiform body into the 
burrows, it follows them to the end of their galleries, and de- 
stroys whole families. We have on several occasions, after 
a light snow, followed the trail of this Weasel through the fields 
and meadows, and witnessed the immense destruction which 
it occasioned in a single night. It enters every hole under 
stumps, logs, stone heaps, and fences, and evidences of its bloody 
deeds are seen in the mutilated remains of the Mice scattered 
on the snow. The little Chipping or Ground-squirrel, 
Tamias lysteri, takes up its residence in the vicinity of the grain 
fields, and is known to carry off^ in its cheek pouches vast quan- 
tities of wheat and buckwheat to serve as winter stores. The 
Ermine instinctively discovers these snug retreats, and in the 
space of a few minutes destroys a whole family of these beauti- 
ful little Tamice; without even resting awhile until it has con- 
sumed its now abundant food, its appetite craving for more 
blood as if impelled by an irresistible destiny, it proceeds in 
search of other objects on which it may glut its insatiable 
vampire-like thirst. The Norway Rat and the Common House- 
mouse take possession of our barns, wheat stacks and granaries, 
and destroy vast quantities of grain. In some instances the 
farmer is reluctantly compelled to pay even more than a 
tithe in contributions towards the support of these pests. Let, 

• Quad. 111., 1859, p. 244. ■» Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, pp. 59-60. 

852 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

however, an Ermine find its way into these barns and granaries 
and there take up its winter residence, and the havoc which is 
made among the Rats and Mice will soon be observable. The 
Ermine pursues them to their farthest retreats, and in a few 
weeks the premises are entirely free from their depredations. 
We once placed a half domesticated Ermine in an out-house in- 
fested with Rats, shutting up the holes to prevent their escape. 
The little animal soon commenced his work of destruction. 
The squeaking of the Rats was heard throughout the day. 
In the evening it came out licking its mouth, and seemed like 
a hound after a long chase, much fatigued." 

At Ingolf, Ont., September i6, 1904, I saw a specimen of 
this Weasel that had been shot by the station agent. He told 
me that there were five or six Rabbits each night about the 
station. But one day the Weasel took up its abode near by and 
the Rabbits disappeared. The Weasel came into the station 
one night and, by help of the dog and a stick, the man injured 
it, but it escaped through a hole in the mosquito bar. Next 
day it was back and he killed it with a shot-gun. The pertinac- 
ity of the animal in returning was very characteristic. 

STORAGE The storage habit is not what we look for in a creature 

so reckless and wasteful as a Weasel, and yet it seems fairly 
well-developed in this species. Bachman, after the above 
experiment with the Ermine as a ratter, says:" "A board of 
the floor was raised to enable us to ascertain the result of our 
experiment, and an immense number of Rats were observed, 
which, although they had been killed in different parts of the 
building, had been dragged together, forming a compact 
heap." And again he says'- that he has known the Ermine 
to kill and cache in the snow a Cottontail Rabbit, pressing the 
snow tightly down over it. 

John Burroughs gives" another curious case of Weasel 
storage, in connection with the den already described. He 
saw the creature {cicognanii?) carrying a Mouse into a hole 

" Ibid., p. 60. " Ibid., p. 58. 

"Squirrels and Other Furhcarers, 1900, pp. 72-5. 


Short-tailed Weasel 853 

about every fifteen minutes till 4 were stored within; the next 
day the same thing went on until 4 more were carried in 
before his eyes, and doubtless others he had not seen, so he set 
to work to dig out and examine this larder, but the farther he 
went the more branches the tunnel had, and after many hours' 
digging he gave it up. 

Kennicott credits'* the kindred species (noveboracensis) 
with collecting in a particular spot the Rats and Mice it has 
slaughtered, until a hundred or more of the victims are in the 

As the Weasel usually craves hot, fresh blood, and a 
living prey, I am puzzled to understand its occasional wabblings 
toward the frugal habits and virtuous ways of much better 

Much as we may hate it for its sanguinary disposition, we gour- 
are bound to respect the Weasel for its courage. It will ordi- 
narily face any animal up to twenty or thirty times its size; a 
mother Weasel will face and fight an elephant; she will fly from 
nothing that may threaten her young. 

That this animal will sometimes attack man is shown in 
a case related by Burroughs:'^ The Weasel turned savagely on 
a man that had interfered with its feasting on a newly killed 
Rat. It dodged his blows of stick and stone in a way "sin- 
gularly uncanny and startling. It was like some infuriated 
imp of Satan, dancing before him and watching the chance to 
seize him by the throat or to dash into his eyes." 

Whatever a Weasel does, is done quickly — whether it be to speed 
seize the bounding Squirrel, clinch on the rash terrier's nose, 
elude the rifle ball at the flash, or save its young — it is known 
to act like lightning and with nearly uniform success. 

Measured by miles per hour, I doubt not its speed on the 
ground would be low, but in dodging it is quick to bafflement 
of the eye and the gun. In the trees it is perfectly at home, 

" Quad. 111., 1858, p. 106. 

" Squirrels and Other Fur-bearers, 1900, p. 84. 


854 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

much more so than a Chipmunk, and almost as much so as a 

Bachman writes'" thus of one: "To avoid a dog that was 
in close pursuit, it mounted a tree and laid itself flat on a 
limb about 20 feet from the ground, from which it was finally 

In the water it is a good swimmer. The following was 
observed by J. W. Curran, of Montreal, while camped at Lake 
Couchiching, Ont., in July, 1899:'' 

"About 50 yards away from us a Chipmunk jumped off 
a tree overhanging the water and plunged boldly in, followed 
at a distance of not more than 3 feet by a Weasel. It was a 
great jumping contest, and our hearts were with the little 
fellow in front. However, we remained neutral. For 25 
yards things looked black for the Chipmunk. The Weasel 
pulled up slightly, probably a foot — and we prepared to go out 
and give a hand. It was a fast race, too, the pair easily beating 
the best swimming I ever saw a dog do. The Weasel, I think, 
showed more of his body and seemed to exert himself more. 
After the first spurt the Chipmunk managed to hold the lead, 
and at the end of one hundred yards or less the Weasel, com- 
pletely blown, suddenly threw up the sponge and wheeled 
around for the shore, his successful competitor keeping right 
on for another island a quarter of a mile away. 

"I think a Chipmunk and probably a Black-squirrel can 
beat a Weasel swimming, and also that Weasels do not depend 
entirely on smell when after a meal." 

If Weasels were to be greatly multiplied they would quickly 
destroy every small bird, beast, and reptile in the country. 
Fortunately, they are nowhere abundant. Although prolific, 
and comparatively safe from the attacks of bird and beast of 
prey, they never become numerous. The reason lies, partly, 
I believe, in their own ferocity. More Weasels are killed by 

'• Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 58. 
" Forest and Stream, June 2, 1900. 

Short-tailed Weasel 855 

Weasels than by any other foe. Two Weasels cannot live in 
the same thicket; one of them must fall or flee. It is probable, 
too, that an unusual increase in Weasels results in such whole- 
sale extermination of their prey that local famine awaits these 
bloodsuckers. In the fights for life that follow, the slightest 
diff^erence in weight counts, and it appears that females are 
often overpowered and destroyed by their unchivalrous lords, 
so that a ruthless check is put on the further multiplication of 
their race, and their number once more brought to its proper 
low adjustment. 

I never saw one of these Weasel fights, but I have heard of 
them, and have seen a duel between Martens in which the 
female was killed. Sex probably counts for nothing among 
these Weasels, except in the breeding season. 

One of the most curious cases of a Weasel meeting his 
doom is this recorded by T. McUwraith.'^ He does not give 
the species of Weasel, but, from the place, it was most likely the 
present one: "Twenty years ago, I knew a youth who shot 
one of these birds [Bald Eagle] as it flew over him while he lay 
concealed among the rushes on the shore of Hamilton Bay 
watching for ducks. On taking it up he found an unusual 
appendage dangling from the neck, which proved, on examina- 
tion, to be the bleached skull of a Weasel. The teeth had the 
'death grip' of the skin of the bird's throat, and the feathers 
near this place were much confused and broken. 

"The eagle had probably caught the Weasel on the ground 
and, rising with his prize, a struggle had ensued in the air, 
during which the Weasel had caught the bird by the throat 
and hung there till he was squeezed and clawed to pieces." 

There is a curious and interesting side to Weasel nature antics 
well-known in England, and doubtless to be discovered in our 
own species, as soon as it has been observed as fully as its 
British cousin. The Stoat often practices a piece of perfectly 
Satanic dissimulation as a ruse to approach some intended 
prey that is in an open place. 

" Birds of Ontario, 1894, pp. 209-10. 

856 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Millais"' gives a number of instances of Stoats openly 
approaching the intended quarry by rolhng on the ground and 
gambolhng in various antic ways, so as to arouse the curiosity 
and lull the suspicions of the victim as it draws ever nearer. 

A most interesting sort of game played by two males and a 
female Stoat is described by C. B. Moffat,"" who witnessed it 
in June, 1890, near Ballyhyland, Enniscorthy, Ireland. All 
were apparently full grown. They were chasing each other 
like dogs or kittens, knocking each other over, and turning 
somersaults. "A curious crowing sort of note, ' Cur 00, curoo, 
curoo,' uttered very quickly, was frequently uttered, and in- 
variably when they ran at full speed. Great part of the game 
consisted in all three animals careering across the road again 
and again, frequently crossing each other, when they some- 
times sprang high in the air and cannoned against one another, 
all evidently in the height of fun. Then there was a ceremony, 
which I could not quite understand, of pressing their noses on 
the bare ground and running along for a foot or so, making a 
slight grating noise. I do not know how; they all did this." 

There is much evidence of adult British Stoats having 
games of this sort in summer and in winter, apparently at times 
when the sex instincts are dormant. 

VALUE The grewsome chapter of carnage and woe that appears 

TO MAN yjjjgj. ^j^g section on habits and food might lead one to list the 
Weasel among things to be destroyed at all times, and by any 
means, as a thing without redeeming qualities. But Kennicott, 
after years of close acquaintance, says:'' "I have frequently 
found the half-eaten remains of Meadow-mice in their burrows 
or under corn-stalks, which had doubtless been destroyed by 
this Weasel [P. noveboracensis], or perhaps the smaller one 
(P. cicognanii). It is a surprising thing that an animal so 
large as this should be able to force its way into the burrows of 
Meadow-mice, and yet it appears to do so without difficulty. 

'» Mam. G. B. & I., 1905, Vol. II, pp. 116-17. 

" Zoologist, 1890, p. 381. " Quad. 111., 185S, p. 105. 

Short-tailed Weasel 857 

"Stacks and barnfuls of grain are often overrun with 
Rats and Mice; but let a Weasel take up his residence there 
and soon the pests will disappear. A Weasel will occasionally 
remain for some time in a barn feeding on these vermin without 
disturbing the fowls. 

"Indeed I am inclined to think that notwithstanding their 
occasionally predatory inroads, they should not be killed when 
living permanently about meadows on cultivated fields at a 
distance from the poultry." 

The Weasel, then, like so many of our carnivores, will eat food 
any living thing it can master, but probably counts on Mice as 
its steady diet the year round. 

This is one of the species that supply the famous Ermine fur 
fur of commerce, but it has not the enormous value that one 
sees ascribed to it in reckless print. Not several dollars, but a 
few cents, are the usual equivalent of a skin. The value is 
so low that few trappers think them worth skinning. 

I am told by D. A. Boscowitz, the fur-dealer of Victoria, ermine 
B. C, that at the London fur sales, in Lampson's, March, 
1906, 80,000 and odd Ermine were sold. The highest price 
was 7 shillings and sixpence (^1.80) a skin for prime white 
Siberian without yellow tint. Prime American and Canadian 
skins brought only 4 shillings (96 cents). Other grades ranged 
from that down to sixpence (12 cents) for third-class. 

The Least Weasel, or Mouse-hunter. 

Putorius rixosus Bangs. 

(Pulorius, see ante; rixosus, Latin for 'quarrelsome' or 'aggressive,' though in this 
respect the species does not seem to be any worse than its betters.) 

Putorius pusillus Baird, 1857, N. Am. Mamm., pp. 159-161 

(in part). 
Putorius rixosus Bangs, 1896, Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., pp. 

Type Locality. — Osier, Saskatchewan, Canada. 

French Canadian, la petite Belette. 

Cree, Ojib., & Saut., Shing-giuus-ance or Little 

Weasel, diminutive of Shing-gwus, the Weasel. 

This name is applied to all of the small species 

Chipewyan, Tel-ky'-lay-az-zy (little Weasel). 
Yankton Sioux, Ke-tong-ka-ska. (Given to all small 


This species has been partly known to naturalists since 
1857, when Baird described a specimen, believing it to be the 
same as its larger cousin, the Least Weasel, of Great Britain. 
In 1893, W. C. Colt, at Osier, Sask., captured a summer spec- 
imen which he sent to Outram Bangs, of Boston. In 1896, 
this naturalist, convinced that it represented an undescribed 
species, gave it the name rixosus. It proves to be very different 
from its European cousin in size as well as in colour and 
cranial characters; it is considerably smaller and is, indeed, the 
smallest known beast of prey in the world. 

Least Weasel 859 

It is readily recognized by its very small size and short 
tail without black tip. For generic characters of Putorius, see 
page 872. 

Head and body, about 6 inches long (150 mm.); tail, i^ size 
inches (31 mm.); hind-foot, about 13-16 inch (20 mm.). 

In summer coat, upper parts and tail even umber brown; colour 
under parts, pure white without any yellow 
tinge, and sharply demarked from the ^ '— 
brown; or, in detail, lips, cheeks, chin, ^ ^ y 

throat, fore-neck, chest, belly, inside of ^^^-=.^ — ->-' 
each leg, and the toes, white. 

A female which I got at Old Fort 
Reliance, Great Slave Lake, September 15, 
1907 (No. 1090, Seton Collection), was: 
length, 6| inches (175 mm.); tail, ifV inches fig. .c-skuii ot p. 

(30 mm.); hind-foot, }J inch (21 mm.). FromMemam-sN.A.Fau„a ■.. 

The body, after skinning, was | mch (19 

mm.) through the deepest part and but J inch (13 mm.) 

through the chest. 

Three races are recognized: 

rixosus Bangs, the typical form. 
eskimo Stone, a larger, redder race with shorter tail. 
allegheniensis Rhoads, larger, darker, and more 
thinly furred than rtxosus. 


The species is found in Arctic and boreal America from the 
Bering Sea, at least to Hudson Bay, probably to the Atlantic; 
and from the Arctic Ocean to the southern limits of the 
Canadian Fauna. 

Professor S. F. Baird had a specimen from Pembina, 
Minn.' Outram Bangs records- it from Osier, Sask., Alaska, 

• Pacific R. R. Rep., Vol. VIII, 1857, p. 160. 

' Rev. Weasels, E. N. A., Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., February, 1896, p. 22. 


860 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Moose Factory, and Fort Albany. According to Kennicott/ 
it is found in Indiana and northern Illinois, and, in fact, 
from New York westward. G. F. Dippie showed me a 
specimen at Calgary where he says it is common. J. M. 
Macoun found it at Jasper House. E. A. Preble took specimens 
in 1901 at Fort Smith and Fort Resolution." E. A. Preble 
and I secured one at Old Fort Reliance, Great Slave Lake, 
September 15, 1907; and W. H. Osgood got one at Tyonek, 
Cook's Inlet, Alaska. ° In Pennsylvania, S. N. Rhoads recently 
discovered and described" a small Weasel {allegheniensts) that 
may turn out to be a race of rixosus. 

At the American Museum, New York, is a specimen 
taken at Johnstown, Ohio, by N. C. Buxton, January 25, 

m MANi Thus all Manitoba is well within its range. A winter spec- 

imen was sent me from Woonona, Man., by W. G. Tweddell. 
Two brown-coated specimens in my collection were taken near 
Morden by D. Nicholson in November, 1903. He has seen 
several in the region of Pembina Mountain. I have about a 
dozen records from Winnipeg. Dr. Gordon Bell shot one near 
Delta Lake, Man., September 15, 1902, and J. S. Charleson 
says it is quite common in fall about Macdonald, Man. Al- 
though the Least Weasel has a wide extension in countries that 
have long been studied by naturalists, it is so elusive and hard 
to observe that until recently it has escaped our acquaintance, 
and as yet we have practically no knowledge of its habits. The 
specimen from which I made the drawing was taken at Mor- 
den, Man., by D. Nicholson, about November, 1903, and is 
still in full summer coat. He had several brought him at 
different times, but said that they "went bad" so quickly 
that most were lost. When a small animal turns putrid in 
two or three hours after death, it usually means that its food 
IS insects. 

' Quad. 111., i8sg, p. 245. 'N. A. Fauna, No. 27, 1908, p. 234. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 21, September, 1901, pp. 69-70. 
° Mam. Penna., 1003, ])p. 173-6. 


Puloriua rixosus Bangs. 

This map is founded on records by R. Kennicott, O. Bangs, Wilfred H. Osgood, S. N. Rhoads, E. W. Nelson, E. A. Preble, J. M. Macoun, 
G. S. Miller, and E. T. Seton. 

The outline shows the theoretical range; the spots are actual records. 


862 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

This proneness to spoil therefore gives us the first ray of 
light we have on its mode of life. I have also known it to feed 
on Mice, and doubtless it adds small birds to its list. 

E. Wilson tells me that, at Winnipeg, Arthur Hutchings 
caught a Least Weasel in a mouse-trap about April 15, 1907. 
It was no larger than a Field-mouse and pure white. The trap 
had broken its leg. He nursed it till it was well, and then set it 
free. It now lives about his woodshed and is remarkably tame. 

My Fort Reliance specimen had come on one of our mouse- 
traps in which was a dead Mouse, had eaten the head, and then 
dragged trap and Mouse some 20 feet, where itself was killed 
by another mouse-trap. As its stomach was quite empty, I 
think there may have been two Weasels there. 

The following incident, witnessed by my friend George L. 
Fordyce, of Youngstown, Ohio, furnishes additional light on 
the food habits of this pigmy: 

"While out in the field this morning (December 26) 
walking along the bank of a ravine at the edge of our golf 
course, I saw a Field-mouse run out of the bushes into the 
rough grass that is just outside of the fair green of the course. 
In another instant, what I thought at first to be a white Mouse 
came out at the same place. The Mouse ran into a wheel 
track and disappeared under the grass, coming out about 6 feet 
from where it went in. The white animal followed through 
the same course, and when it came out, I saw that it was a small 
Weasel, very little larger than the Mouse, and that it was fol- 
lowing the trail of the Mouse by scent. 

" For a time the Mouse ran in circles and zigzagged about, 
often coming around within four or five feet of the Weasel, but 
the latter seemed so intent on the trail that it did not notice 
the Mouse to one side. After a time, the latter started toward 
the open golf course, and when the Weasel reached the point 
where the trail was straight, it sighted the prey, made a sudden 
dash forward, and, although 25 feet behind, overtook the 
Mouse while it was going three or four feet. 

"For a few seconds they seemed to fight, until the Weasel 
got the Mouse by the throat, and started for the bushes, drag- 

Least Weasel 863 

ging the body. When it came within about three feet of me, I 
moved a little to see what it would do. It dropped its victim 
and ran into the ravine. The Mouse had a drop of bright red 
blood in the centre of its white throat. I waited near by for 
fifteen or twenty minutes, thinking the Weasel might come 
back, but it did not show up again; even an hour later the 
Mouse had not been disturbed."' 

W. H. Osgood, while collecting in Cook's Inlet, Alaska, 
secured an example, of which he says:' 

"One adult female was taken in a swampy place near 
Tyonek, September 19. It was caught in a small mouse-trap 
in a Microtus runway, and doubtless would have escaped had 
it not thrashed into a pool of water and drowned." 

"The natives," he adds, "regard the capture of one of indian 
these rare animals as a piece of great good fortune. One old stition 
Indian who frequently visited our cabin told us that his brother 
who had caught one, when a small boy, had in consequence 
become a 'big chief; and he assured me that since I had 
caught one I must surely be destined to become a man of great 
wealth and power." 

This brief account contains everything that is on record 
about this wide-spread but furtive species. 

Direct observation fails us here, and for further light we 
must look to the next best thing — the analogy of its kindred. 
The nearest well-known relative of our tiny carnivore is the 
Little Weasel or Mouse-hunter (P. nivalis) of Great Britain. 
This differs chiefly in being slightly larger; and there is no 
reason to doubt that in habits, as in anatomy, they are very 

According: to Thomas Bell,° the Little Weasel in Great British 


Britain preys chiefly on Mice, for which reason he regards it as 

' Personal letter, December 26, 1907. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 21, September, 1901, pp. 69-70. 

' British Quadrupeds, 1874, pp. 183 et seq. 

864 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

an animal to be encouraged about barns; but it also devours 
insects, small birds, and, on rare occasions, chickens. It hunts 
by scent, climbs, and swims with ease. 

Gestation in the Weasels is about 42 days. The young 
are usually 5 in a litter, but vary from 4 to 6. The nest 
is in a hole in a bank. It is lined with grass and herbage. 
The mother will defend them fearlessly and desperately against 
all assailants. 

Most Weasels are solitary hunters, but the mother will go 
hunting with her whole brood in late summer and early autumn. 
These family gatherings are doubtless the 'weasel packs' one 
occasionally hears of. 

HUNTING J. G. Millais points out'" that in parts of England the 
PACKS Common Weasel (P. nivalis Linn.) is called 'fairy,' and 
states that: "The habit of Weasels to travel and hunt in 
company at night, most likely explains a superstition which 
still lingers in the West of England, to the effect that Hares are 
hunted at night by packs of little fairy hounds, locally called 
'Dandy Dogs,' and these some of the country people will 
assure you they have seen and watched with awe." 
VALUE This Weasel is never known to attack well-grown poultry, 

or mammals larger than a rat, so that it must be considered a 
friend of the farmer, an animal, therefore, that is worthy of full 

These observations will help us to an understanding of our 
own still more diminutive species, and any reader who happens 
to have first-hand facts about this animal or its habits, can 
render good service to the cause of Natural History by putting 
his knowledge on record. 

'" Mam. G. B. & I., 1905, Vol. II, p. 135. 


Large Weasel, Large Ermine, Long-tailed Weasel 
or Yellow-bellied Weasel. 

Putorius longicauda (Bonaparte.). 

(L. longicauda, from loitgus, long; cauda, tail.) 

Mustela longicauda BoN., 1838, Charlesworth's Mag. Nat. 

Hist., II, p. 38. 
Putorius longicauda Rich., 1839, Zool. Beechey's Voy., p. 10. 
Type Locality. — Carlton House, Sask. 

French Canadian, la Belette a longue queue. 
Cree, SauT., & OjIB., Shing-gwus'. 
Yankton Sioux, He-tong-ka-shah. 
Ogallala Sioux, He-tu-kah'-san. 

This large Weasel is readily recognized by its very long 
tail and, in summer coat, by its rich buffy-yellow under parts, 
very different from the white or pale sulphur tint often seen 
on the under parts of other Weasels. 

Seen afar, in winter, it might be mistaken for a white 

In addition to generic characters (see p. 872), it has the 

Length, about 18 inches (457 mm.); tail, 6 inches (152 size 
mm.); hind-foot, 2 inches (51 mm.). Female about one- 
seventh smaller. 

All above, pale warm yellowish-brown (much like that of colour 
cicognanii), darkest on crown and back, lightest on legs; all 
below, rich warm bufify-yellow; tip of tail for one-quarter of 
length, black; chin, cheeks, and upper lip, white. In winter, 
pure white, except the tail-tip, which continues black. Fe- 
male similar. 


866 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The following races are recognized: 

longicauda Bonaparte, the typical form. 
spadix Bangs, darker and more richly coloured. 
oribasus Bangs, darker and duskier than spadix. 

Besides these are the following very nearly related forms, 
at present ranking as species: 

Putorius artzonensis Mearns, similar to longicauda in 

colour and marking, but much smaller. 
Putorius saturatus Merriam. Like arizonensis, but 

larger and darker, with distinct spots behind the 

corners of the mouth. 
Putorius alleni Merriam. Like arizonensis, but upper 

parts more suffused with yellow and audital 

bullae flatter. 


R-wGE The range of the species is the Great Plains from Kansas 

northward to the Saskatchewan. In Manitoba, I found it 
abundant throughout the prairie region, seeking by preference 
such cover as the edges of broken land, thickets, or river banks. 
I have seen it out on the open prairie, but not more than a mile 
or so from timber. I am told, however, that it follows the 
Richardson Ground-squirrel wherever it goes, preying on it 
and living in its burrows. As might have been expected, the 
ranges of these two animals coincide in the north. 

I never saw or heard of a specimen taken in the forest 
country. All those examined by me in Manitoba were from 
Winnipeg, Carberry, and Morden. L is probably found 
throughout our Alleghanian or Transition Region. 

HOME- I have no evidence on the home-range of the individual, 

but imagine, from the nature and abundance of its food, that in 
summer, at least, it need not travel so far as do most of its kin. 

Long-tailed Weasel 


A pair of Long-tailed Weasels to every square mile of popula- 
prairie would, I think, represent the utmost number of this ^^°^ 
species. This is, however, a mere guess, founded on the 
number of Weasel tracks in the snow. Settlement seems to 

have done nothing towards thin- 
ning their ranks. They are, 
I think, as numerous now as 

In sociability, means of in- socia- 
tercommunication, matmg, 

breeding, etc., the Long-tailed 
Weasel appears much like the 
smaller Brown-weasel, but 
there are very few facts at 
hand for help in comprehend- 
ing its ways of life. 

Some interesting observa- habits 
tions, which probably refer to 
the present species, are con- 
tributed by Dr. G. B. Grinnell: 
"In certain portions of the 
West the Common Weasel, or 
Ermine, frequently takes up its 
abode in the villages of the 
Ground-squirrels, which are 
such a pest, and preys on the 
young and perhaps the adult Squirrels. If, for any reason, 
the Squirrels desert their villages and move onward — as they 
frequently do through lack of food — the Weasels are likely to 
migrate with them. 

"This year the Ground-squirrels have been a pest on the 
Blackfoot Reservation, in western Montana, and have de- 
voured many of the gardens, root and branch. There seems 
to be no efficient way of destroying them, though, by means 
of the trap and a small rifle, my friend, J. B. Monroe, 

Fig. 208 — Skulls of Long-tailed Weasel. 
Uppermost, side view of adult (^ skull. 
Middle, lop view of adult ^ skull from Carlton House, 

Lowest, top view of adult ^ skull from Carlton House, 

(Cuts from Merriam's Synopsis of Weasels. N. A. Fauna. 

No. II. 1S96, p. 20. and Plate 111. Supplied by Biolo^M- 

cal Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture.) 

868 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

had managed to kill in his small garden about 300 up to 
July I. 

" In this village there are several Weasels, and Major R. A. 
Allen, who devoted much time to shooting Squirrels, frequently 
saw them. One seemed to have little fear of him. Sometimes 
he would see the creature run into its hole, and, going there, 
would hold a dead Squirrel down in the hole, and the Weasel 
would come up and seize it with its teeth. At length, the little 
animal became so tame that it would come to him and reach 
for the Squirrel held above, and would often jump into the air 
trying to catch it. 

"Of course, the Weasels were never troubled — they were 
useful in destroying Squirrels."' 

Professor John Macoun tells me that on July 29, 1906, at a 
place 20 miles south-west of Saskatoon, Sask., he saw a Rich- 
ardson Ground-squirrel plunge into its hole on the approach 
of a Long-tailed Weasel. The latter went after it at once, but 
soon came out. Evidently the Squirrel had baffled it in some 
way; perhaps by plugging the burrow behind itself. 

In addition to Ground-squirrels, this species preys much 
on the Snowshoe-hare or Bush-rabbit, especially in winter. 
The Weasel actually runs it down in open chase, in spite of 
the Hare's superior speed. Of this I have often seen track 
record in the snow. Once only did I see the pursuit. 

In the winter of 1886, while hunting in the poplar woods 
north-east of Carberry, I saw a Hare running through the brush, 
pursued at some distance by an Ermine or Long-tailed Weasel. 
The chase circled about the place where I was camped. I 
stopped to watch it. The Hare was at the point of giving up 
when, all at once, it ran towards me and took refuge under the 
sleigh, near my feet. The Weasel ran around at a distance but, 
before I could get hold of my gun, he decided to seek his dinner 
somewhere else. 

While Ground-squirrels in summer and Hares in winter 
may be staples of its diet, I doubt not the Long-tailed Weasel 
is ready to prey on any living creature it can catch, from Mouse 

' Forest and Stream, September 14, tqoi, p. 205. 


Pulorius longicauda Bonaparte. 

Founded chieflv on C. Hart Mcrriam's Synopsis, papers bv O. Bangs, with original records bv E, T, Seton. The cross above Lake Nipissing 
is for an extraUmital record of Spadix. Sec Miller, Mam. Ont. Proc. Bost, Soc. Nat. Hist., 1897. Vol. 28, No. i, p. 44. 


870 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

to wild goose, and a full investigation will probably show that 
Mice are its most important year-round diet. 

COURAGE The following adventure that I witnessed in 1897 is good 

evidence of the ferocity and courage of this animal: On 
September 5, I was out near Medora, N. Dak., with several 
men on a Wolf hunt. At night, as we were about to roll up in 
our blankets, a member of the party called out: "Say, Jack, 
there's a Pack-rat just run under your saddle." As a Pack- 
rat (Neotoma) is a notorious mischief-maker among leathers, 
Jack went over and gave his saddle a kick. Then we heard 
him gasping, swearing, and finally shouting for help. In the 
dim light we could see him dancing like a maniac and clutching 
at his throat. The campers all sat up and answered his calls 
for help with jeers and derision. "Look at Jack; he's got 'em 
again. Kill them. Jack; the air's full of them," etc. 

A white bull-terrier with us now rushed forth growling, and 
seemed also to leap at the man's throat, then to shake himself. 
Now the man grew calm, and we learned that he had 
kicked out, not a Pack-rat, but a Long-tailed Weasel, which 
immediately attacked him. It ran up his legs a number of 
times, aiming at his throat. He had clutched it and cast it off 
again and again, but it had persisted, and might have done 
him serious injury but for the prompt assistance of the bull- 
terrier. The specimen is now in the Field Museum. 

As long as farmers farm, they will doubtless consider it a 
solemn duty to kill a Weasel at sight, and this is one of the 
duties they never wilfully dodge. We cannot blame them if 
we read of the destruction a Brown-weasel can do in a hennery, 
and, remember, the Long-tailed Weasel is a Brown-weasel 
multiplied two diameters by weight; but it is well to recall 
first, the havoc the species makes among Mice and Ground- 
squirrels, and second, that certain individuals only go a-hen- 
ning; others, of a different mood, are content to go a-mousing 
and a-squirrelling all their lives, and these we do not need to 
destroy. That is, kill only those that come to be killed in the 

Long-tailed Weasel 871 

The Long-tailed Weasel does not allow us to forget that 
his name is Putonus, and Putonus is related to Mephitis. 
Merriam says:^ "I met one high up in Salmon River Moun- 
tains, September 5; he was in pursuit of a Richardson Squirrel 
in a damp, moss-covered place in a dark spruce forest, and 
stood bolt upright when he saw me. I wounded him with my 
auxiliary, and he immediately emitted his powerful stench and 
disappeared in a hole at the root of a spruce." 

In the mountains of Wyoming (1898), I watched a Long- 
tail, hunting in the snow around me, and in spite of heavy frost 
made the accompanying sketch to illustrate his pose and 
tracks. His manner of diving under the snow and of coming 
up at unexpected and remote points was remarkable and 
suggested an eel in the mud. 

Though the fur is fine and of exquisite yellow and white fur 
in winter, it is of too low value to be of commercial importance. 
(See small Ermine, p. 857.) 

-N. A. Fauna, No. 5, 1891, p. 83. (May have been arizonensis.) 

io to toinchts 

The Mink, Minx or Vison. 

Putorius vison (Schreber). 

(L. Putorius, a 'stinker,' applied, for good reason, to all the Weasels; vison, meaning?) 

Mustela vison ScHREBER, 1778, Saugthiere, III, p. 463. 
Putorius visoTJ Gapper, 1830, Zool. Journ., V, p. 202. 
Type Locality. — Eastern Canada. 

French Canadian, le Foutereau. 

Cree, Sang-gwiss'. According to Richardson, Shak- 

zuashew or Atjackasheiv. 
OjIBWAY, Shang-gwes'-se. 
Saut., Sang'-way-soo. 
Chipewyan, Tel-chu'-say. 
Ogallala Sioux, Lo-chin'-cha. 
Yankton Sioux, Doke-sesch. 

The word ' Mink' is usually traced to the Swedish 'Maenk, 
though it is not clear how or when the word crossed the ocean. 

The genus Putorius (Cuv., 1817) comprises Weasel-like 
animals with long, slender bodies, short legs with five toes on 
each foot, more or less bushy tails, short ears, and teeth as 

Inc. ^^-^; can. ; prem. ^^-^; mol. =34 

3-i I -I i-i 2-2 

The Mink unites these characters w ith the following: 
Length, about 24 inches (610 mm.); tail, 7 inches (178 

mm.); hind-foot, 2-1 inches (63 mm.). The females are 






An ordinary male weighs about 2 pounds, but I have seen weight 
aduhs that were only 1 1 to i f pounds. The largest I ever weighed 
was taken at Winnipeg, November i, 1907; it turned the scale 
at 2 pounds 6 ounces. The females are considerably less than 
the males, weighing, according to 
Resseque,' about i pound 10 ounces. 

In general the Mink is nearly colour 
uniform umber-brown, darker and 
glossier on the back, and deepening 
on the tail nearly to black; the chin 
is more or less white, and there may 
be some white spots anywhere on 
throat, breast or belly, but these 
are very irregular; some speci- 
mens are totally without white. In 
the American species the white 
does not reach the upper lip. In 
the Siberian species the upper lip is 
normally white. This animal does not turn white in winter. 
The impression it gives as it dodges in the woods along the 
water is of a long, thin rat, with brown fur and hairy tail. 

The following races are recognized: 

vtson Schreber, the typical form. 
lacustris Preble, a larger race. 
vulgivagus Bangs, paler, with heavier dentition. 
energumenos Bangs, very large and very dark. 
ingens Osgood, very large and somewhat dark. 
lutreocephalus Harlan, larger than the type with 
shorter and paler fur. 


Fig. 200 — Right paws of young Min k d*. 
(Life size.) 

Desbarats, Ont.. Aug. 17, 1904. 

The range of the Mink includes all of Manitoba; it is range 
found even along the sloughs of the prairie region, although it is 

' Coues, Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, p. 183. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

less abundant there than in the woods to the northward and 
ENVIRON- The pecuhar environment for which it is adapted is the 
border-land between water and woods, between Otter and 
Weasel. Although it can live in the water and catch hsh, like 
the Otter, it can also hunt on the land like the Weasel, following 
its prey into cover of rushes and woods, pursuing it over logs, 
into burrows, and occasionally even climbing up some sloping 

tree to get a better view of the situation. Nevertheless, it must 
be admitted that on the land it is as inferior to the Long-tailed 
Weasel as in the water it is to the Otter, and many of its meals 
are of a kind that either of its cousins would despise, being 
neither fish nor flesh. 


The home-range or locality of each individual is probably 
very large for so small an animal. Its habit seems to be that 
of all Weasels; it hunts a given area till the game grows 
scarce by destruction or flight, then it moves on a mile or two, 
along stream or overland, in search of new hunting grounds. 
In this way it will change many times during a season, but 
always, I believe, keeping within a well-defined area that it 
knows and considers its range. Judging from the time a Mink 


The map is founded chiefly on records by J. Richardson. Audubon & Bachman, R. Kcnnicott, E. W. Nelson, J. Fannin, C. H. Townsend, 
C. Hart Merriam, (.). Bangs, W. H. ClsRood, E. A. Preble, S. N. Rhoads, U. G. Elliot, V. Bailey. 

The following are recognized : 

Pulorius vison (Brisson) with 6 1 

Putoriua lukmia Bangs. 

Pulorius mclampeptus (Elliot) 

876 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

needs to get back to a given point, I should say its home-range 
was less than 5 miles in diameter, and that it did not by any 
means occupy it to the exclusion of others of the kind; these 
individual ranges may overlap like a number of rings thrown 
at random on the ground and will be most numerous where 
food is most abundant. 

Dr. Merriam makes some remarks that bear on this 
topic :^ "I find that many hunters and trappers believe that 
the Mink does not make long journeys, but remains in the 
vicinity of its nest, to which it returns every twenty-four hours 
or thereabouts. My experience, in certain cases, at least proved 
the contrary." He then gives an account of a large Mink 
that reappeared at intervals of two or three weeks and adds: 
" This and other more or less similar experiences have convinced 
me that the Mink frequently, if not commonly, makes long 
excursions like the Otter, following one watercourse and then 
another, and returning over the same route, and I believe that 
they have a number of nests scattered at convenient intervals 
along these circuits. This habit may be confined to the old 
males, but whether it is so or not remains to be proven." 

ABUN- The Mink is one of our most plentiful fur-bearers. I 

should guess that there is one pair of them to every square mile 
in Manitoba; less, no ddubt in the prairie region, but a suffi- 
cient surplus in the timber and lake regions to keep up the 
average. There seems to be little change in the number of 
Mink during recent years. I saw as many and as much sign 
in 1904 as I did in 1882. During the last fifty years the Hud- 
son's Bay Company has exported 40,000 to 90,000 Mink skins 
each year from the Northwest. On exceptional years the 
number has far exceeded these highest figures, but the supply 
continues about the same. Reckoned by area, about one- 
thirtieth of these come from Manitoba. 

sociA- So far as known, the only exceptions to solitary life among 

BILITY . . . . 

Minks are during the mating season, and while the young are 

' Mam. Adh., 1884, pp. 65-6. 

Mink 877 

with the mother. As these are strictly family groups, they are 
not real exceptions, and the Mink must be considered an un- 
sociable animal. 

The rudiments of the mud-pie telephone, as described in 
the Muskrat chapter, are found among Mink, but this appears 
to be their sole impersonal mode of intercommunication, and a 
very poor one at that. 

The only sounds I have heard the species utter are a growl, voice 
a deep savage snarl, a louder snarl of defiance that is almost 
a scream, and finally a shrill screech when it is in a trap. 

Kennicott credits' it with uttering a remarkable shrill, 
twittering squeak, not unlike that of a bunting, but this only 
when hurt or excited. To these we must add the loud sniffing, 
which, while it is merely an attempt to smell clearly, also con- 
veys to another Mink the idea that here there is something 
which is probably worth while approaching and smelling. 

Most naturalists believe that the Mink is polygamous or mating 
possibly polyandrous. Thus Kennicott says:* "The Mink 
is not at all gregarious and does not even live in pairs. During 
the love season, which occurs in February or March, according 
to the climate, the female is accompanied by one or more 
males." And in the Resseque Minkery one male commonly 
served six females.^ However, the fact recorded by many 
observers that during the mating season the males fight desper- 
ately to a finish, is directly opposed to any theory of polyandry. 

We are told, further, that the females in the Minkery 
"come in heat with great regularity, all being ready for the 
male within ten days, and the period of excitement lasts about 
four days." 

The following from the pen of Bachman illustrates their 
habits at this season:" "The latter end of February or the 
beginning of March in the latitude of Albany, N. Y., is the 
rutting season of the Mink. At this period the ground is 
usually still covered with snow, but the male is, notwithstand- 

= Quad. 111., 1858, p. 103. * Ibid., p. 102. 

= Coues, Fur bearing Anim., 1877, p. 182. ' Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 258. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ing, very restless, and his tracks may everywhere be traced, 
along ponds, among the slabs around saw-mills, and along 
nearly every stream of water. He seems to keep on foot 
all day as well as through the whole night. Having for several 
days in succession observed a number of Minks on the ice 
hurrying up and down a mill-pond, where we had not observed 
any during the whole winter, we took a position near a place 


Fig. 211 — Mink about one-fifth of life size. 

which we had seen them pass, in order to procure some of them. 
We shot 6 in the course of the morning, and ascertained that 
they were all large and old males. As we did not find a single 
female in a week, whilst we obtained a great number of males, 
we came to the conclusion that the females during this period 
remain in their burrows." 

The question is, however, far from being settled. Many 
observers have seen Minks in pairs together, sharing each 
other's lives and fortunes to some extent. 

Thus Charles G. D. Roberts tells me that one year about 
midsummer as he was carrying his canoe around a log jam 
on the Nashwaak River, N. B., he saw two full-grown Mink 
travelling together, and evidently associated. They left the 

Mink 87!) 

log jam just as he had done, to travel down the bank; as they 
came near he stood still to watch them. One ran by him and 
over his foot; the other, a large one that he took to be the male, 
ran past, some ten feet aside. Beyond him they resumed their 
journey and took to the water again about forty yards below. 

Finally, we are told that in the Cancandea, N. Y., Minkery :' 
"About the middle of March the females are separated from 
the males until the young are reared. The necessity for 
this arises from the fact that the males seem inclined to brood 
the young almost as much as the dam, when both are permitted 
to remain together." This is strong evidence that in a state 
of nature the male Mink is a model father, which necessitates 
that he be also a faithful mate. 

In Manitoba, pairing takes place in March and may 
extend even into mid-April. 

There is hardly any low situation near the water where a 
Mink will not make its den. Long burrows in banks, holes 
under logs, stumps or roots, and hollow trees are favourite 
places, but crevices of rocks, drains, and nooks under stone 
piles and bridges are frequently selected. 

If the burrow is one dug by the animal itself, it is about 
4 inches in diameter and, if in ordinarily easy digging, it may 
continue along for lo or 12 feet at a depth of 2 or 3 feet. 

On the prairie Kennicott found the Minks "living in bur- 
rows, often 6 or 8 rods in length, on high ground, from which 
long galleries extend to the edge of a slough or pond. These 
galleries, however, are not formed by the Minks, but by Musk- 
rats, which dig them in order to place their nests beyond the 
reach of high water and yet have subterranean communication 
with the stream."* Similarly, he credits it with occupying the 
burrows of the Badger and Skunk when in a suitable locality, 
and finally with frequently digging dens in old ant-hills, pre- 
sumably because these are dry elevations near the water. 

At the end of the long, crooked, 4-inch tunnel is the nest, nest 
or nursery den, of the family. This is usually described as a 

' CouL-s, Furbearing Anim., 1877, p. 184. * Quad. 111., 1858, p. 102. 

880 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

chamber about a foot in diameter, warm and dry, and well 
lined with fine grass, feathers, and any other soft material that 
is handy. 

Sometimes the nest is in a Muskrat home, whose rightful 
owners have been dispossessed, probably eaten, but the lining 
and finish are said to be the same as in the underground den. 
So far as known, it is made and guarded solely by the mother. 

The male, however, has a den of his own, probably a 
number of them, scattered over his home-range, as already 
noted. Indeed, it is tolerably certain that at all seasons each 
Mink has one or two refuge dens at convenient parts of its 
home-region, where he or she can count on a comfortable 
nest no matter what weather may be in possession of the out- 
side world. 

GESTA According to all authorities, the period of gestation is 

TION, ETC. , J 1 o 

exactly 42 days. 

In Manitoba, the young are born about the last week in 
April or first of May. They are usually 5 or 6 in number, but 
may vary from 3 to 10. On arrival they are about the size 
and shape of a little finger, pale in colour, blind, naked, and 
helpless. Their eyes open when they are five weeks old, and 
now the little creatures begin to look like Mink, for they are 
covered with a close fine coat of fur. 

On June 28, 1883, I found a young Mink lying under some 
brush on a sort of trail between two ponds among the Sand- 
hills, near Carberry. I was led to it by its plaintive squeaking. 
It was well formed, but its eyes were not open, and I saw 
nothing of the mother or of any other young Mink. Why it 
was there is a puzzle, as this did not seem to be a nest. Possi- 
bly the mother was moving her brood to new quarters and left 
this in a temporary resting place. I carried it home. Its 
eyes opened about July i. Reckoning backward, this one 
must have been born about May 29 and engendered in mid- 

About this time their eyes are opened and the mother 
begins to supply them with solid food. 

Mink 881 

The following, by Dr. T. S. Roberts, of Minneapolis, is a 
graphic picture of the mother's life and labours for her young 
at this season:" 

"While engaged in geological work on the Cedar River, 
near Osage, la., my attention was attracted by the peculiar 
actions of a Mink {Putorius vison). By careful manoeuvring 
we were enabled to approach to within a short distance of 
where it was engaged, and there watch its behaviour unob- 
served. It was an old mother Mink engaged in fishing for her 
young. On the ripples in the centre of the stream, where the 
water was not more than two feet in depth, was a flat drift 
boulder rising a few inches above the surface. On this rock 
the mother Mink would take her position and here watch for 
small fish to approach, when she would dive into the water, 
be gone for a moment, and then reappear on the opposite side 
of the rock, usually with a fish in her mouth, which she would 
deposit in the centre of the stone and its struggles instantly 
stopped by a quick, sharp bite at the back of the head, which 
caused immediate death. This process was repeated with- 
out intermission, except to stop for an instant to shake the 
water from her furry coat, until 7 fish, varying from 4 to 7 
inches in length, were deposited on the rock. Then, without 
stopping to rest, taking one fish in her mouth, she plunged into 
the water and swam ashore, climbed up the steep bank, and 
ran hastily to her young, in a burrow under an old stump 
on the bank of the stream, fifty yards away. In a moment 
she was seen returning, plunged into the stream and swam 
to the rock, took a second fish in her mouth, entered the 
river once more, and returned to her young as at first. This 
was repeated until all the fish had been carried away. A 
few moments after having removed the last fish, she returned 
and began her work once more. This time, however, her 
labours were without result, so, shifting her position to another 
rock in the stream, a short distance away, she continued her 
fishing. But, although more than a quarter of an hour was 
spent in energetic effort, her labours were without avail, 

'INlam. Minn., 1892, pp. 127-8. 

882 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and she was this time compelled to return to her young 

"From the bank of the stream, where egress from the 
.water was made, to the burrow fifty yards distant, a well- 
beaten path had been formed by the mother Mink in her daily 
excursions in quest of food for her young." 

As late as June 28 they are still in the nest with the 
mother in the country about Methy Lake, as evidenced by 
a note in Richardson's last "Journey":'" "A female Mink 
{Fison lutreola) was killed as it was crossing a bay of the lake. 
It had 8 swollen teats and its udder contained milk; so that 
probably its death insured that of a young progeny also." 

Soon after their eyes are open the young Mink seem to 
go forth into the world under the guardianship of the mother. 
W. R. Hine tells me that he has often seen the old one with 
her brood in June. At such times she shows fight facing one, 
and uttering a snarling screech; the young meanwhile escape 
to the water. By now they have doubtless abandoned the 

One of my Kippewa guides, Archie Miller, relates that in 
a great forest fire near Temiscaming Lake, in July, 1901, 
he saw an old Mink with her 4 young swimming up a creek 
towards a lake. The woods were blazing on both sides and 
they were travelling up stream to escape, coming up for a 
breath, then diving and swimming under. They were hard 
pressed, nearly worn out indeed, and could not swim more 
than 25 feet without coming up. They were the size of a Red- 
squirrel; only one parent was seen. 

Another guide, Edouard C. Crete, contributes some inter- 
esting observations on the home life. He says that one year 
he was staying at a hay camp, 1 1 miles west of Deux Rivieres, 
Ont., from July 12 to 22. Every day, for a week at least, 
after the 15th, an old Mink came with 5 young ones to feed 
on the rubbish thrown out. They were there twice a day, 
morning and evening, regularly until he went away. 

'"Arc. Search E.\p., 1851, Vol. I, p. loq. 

Mink 883 

Yet another interesting glimpse of the family life is fur- 
nished me by A. Barton Hepburn, of New York. When he 
was a boy living on the home farm at Colton, N. Y., he was 
going with his father one day late in June across an alder 
brook by the road bridge when they saw in the bushes to one 
side an old Mink with 5 young ones that were about one- 
quarter grown. They were following her, but when they 
came to the road, they held back and would not quit the cover 
to cross the road. She made several efforts to coax and lead 
them on, but they were timid. At length she seemed to lose 
patience; she seized them, one at a time, by the neck and so 
carried them across to the opposite thicket, where they con- 
tinued their journey. He saw nothing of the father Mink and 
does not remember whether or not the mother made any 

The little ones continue with the mother until the middle 
of August; they have now learned something of the ways of life, 
the family breaks up, and henceforth all are seen wandering 
alone. They are now about half grown in point of weight. 
As usual, the females mature sooner. We learn from Resseque" 
that they attain to their full stature in ten months, and repro- 
duce when one year old, "while the males are not full grown 
until they are a year and a half old. It is noted that in every 
litter one or the other sex predominates in numbers, there 
being rarely half of them males and the other half females." 

There is but one brood each season. 

Fish are perhaps the Mink's choice food, and it delights food 
in taking them by open pursuit in the clear water. Although it 
is inferior to the Otter in this craft, Audubon and Bachman 
record that they have seen one catch a trout a foot long.'^ A 
quadruped that can catch a trout that size can catch anything 
that swims in the smaller streams. Those that live along 
the prairie sloughs feed chiefly on frogs, tadpole. Mice, and 
Muskrats. The latter it follows under water into their 

" Coues, Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, p. 182. 
" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 255. 

884 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

burrows or their homes, kilhng and devouring them in spite of 
a most desperate resistance. The Muskrat is a noted fighter 
and always dies game; still it dies when it meets the Mink. 

Dr. E. Coues thus'-' condenses M. A. Howell, Jr.'s account 
of a Muskrat-Mink adventure: "Whilst Snipe hunting on a 
marshy island below the Kickapoo Rapids of the Illinois River, 
the writer noticed an object which appeared like a ball some 
six or eight inches in diameter rolling towards the water, and 
soon ascertained that it was a Mink and a Muskrat clinched 
together, and so completely covered with mud as not to have 
been at first recognized. At his approach the Mink released its 
hold and made its escape, but the Muskrat was already dying 
of severe wounds in the head and neck, from which the blood 
was flowing profusely. The Muskrat had evidently been capt- 
ured and overcome in fair fight by broad daylight, and 
the Mink would have devoured its victim had not the hunter 

E. W. Deming, the New York animal-painter, informs me 
that on Green River, of Illinois, the Muskrat is a regular food 
of the Mink. He once found the remains of lo Muskrats in 
a Mink den. This is a typical and extremely carnivorous 
record, but nothing in the way of flesh, fish, or fowl comes amiss. 
It is delighted with the chance to rob the sportsman of a string 
of fish or a wounded duck, even seizing the latter before the 
gunner's eyes, and I have followed its track through the snow in 
Ontario to read the grewsome story of its running down and 
devouring a Gray-rabbit. From all accounts it often amuses 
itself with preying on house-rats where they abound. All kinds 
of birds and eggs are most acceptable food when it can find 
them. Not rarely it quarters itself on the hen house, killing 
each night for food, and especially relishing the blood and 
brains of its victims. 

It will prey on snakes and clams when nothing better 
turns up, and I have several times followed its tracks at Lake 
Winnipegosis to learn that frogs, crayfish, and carrion were 
staple articles of its diet. 

" Fur-beariiig Anim., i<S77, p. 178. 

Mink 885 

The Weasel is a sanguinary little incarnation of fury and habits 
valour, with but little cunning; it is low in intelligence and char- 
incapable of friendship with man or any one else. The Otter, 
though a Weasel in pedigree, seems to have responded to the 
elevating and gentling influences attendant on the fisher-life. 
It is the least destructive, the most docile and intelligent of the 
Family. The Mink is half-way between in habits and character, 
as it is in food and haunts. After sojourning in the reeds along 
the river for a time catching fish and killing Muskrats in Otter- 
fashion, or running down Rabbits and Mice Weasel-fashion, it 
may set out across country to find better hunting and happen, 
in its travels, to discover the real Happy Hunting Ground in the 
form of some farmer's barnyard. Very naturally, it settles 
down in this ideal spot — didn't it set out to find this very thing ? 
— this highly populated wilderness of buildings and sheltered 
nooks is perfect and here "every prospect pleases — only man is 
vile." The Mink's attitude toward this game preserve is quite 
different from that of the lesser Weasels. They are mad to 
kill — kill — kill; they will, if possible, kill everything there in 
one night, then leave the ruined place to seek some new field 
of carnage. Not so the Mink. It has but little of the killer 
spirit. It kills because it must eat, and, having found the well- 
stocked henneries, it says to itself, " Here now will I settle down, 
eat, drink, and make merry, for these are mine own preserves 
by right of discovery, and I will defend them against all 
invaders." On the list of invaders it puts the farmer and his 
family, and his dogs and his cats, and all those that put their 
trust in him. From safe hiding under the barn or in the log- 
pile it sallies forth at night to kill and eat; sometimes one fowl 
each night for many nights in succession; sometimes it yields 
to the blood-lust (not unknown among mankind), and kills 
half a dozen of the defenceless prey, feasting only on those 
choicest parts of all, the blood and brains, just as the Buffalo 
killer would shoot down half a dozen Buffalo because it was so 
easily possible, and then take nothing but the tongues. 

Usually the Mink is killed before leaving the barnyard 
precincts, but it often happens that a number of narrow 

886 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

escapes from shot-guns or dogs decide it to move on. In the 
hours of the night it goes forth, bounding with high-arched 
back. Its speed is not great, but, Hke all Weasels, it is possessed 
of endless strength and doggedness, and though a man can 
outrun it on the open and outwalk it travelling, its steady 
bounding may take it miles away before morning. As it 
journeys it is ever on the alert for guidance from its nose. 
There are a thousand accidents to turn its steps one way 
or another; the cluck of a grouse, the rustle of a Mouse 
in the grass, an easier path, a promising odour in the wind, 
the wind itself, may each and all give trend to its tireless 
bounding and bring the hunter at last to some marsh-land 
of promise, or mayhap another barnyard, wherein it may 
settle down again to comfort of a kind, taking, undoubtedly, 
its life in its teeth while doing so, a condition that it has not 
the wit to think about, and if it had it would simply dismiss 
the thought, viewing this merely as a normal condition of 
all existence. The Mink certainly never spent a moment of 
its life without being under the shadow of impending death, 
and as certainly it never lost a wink of sleep through thinking 
about it. 

If surprised during its hunting or suddenly brought face 
to face with man, it often rises up on its hind-quarters to get a 
better view; in this position it looks extraordinarily long. I 
once met one out on the prairie. It rose up to scan me from 
every one of its twenty-four inches of stature, and stood so till 
I came within ten feet and removed the top of its head with a 
thimbleful of sparrow-shot. 

This species is active and tumts chiefly by night, but 
is often seen in the daytime, especially in the mating season 
and in the fall. 

CHAR- A tame Otter makes one of the most engaging of pets. 

No normal man ever made a pet of a Weasel, but tame Minks 
have often proved most docile and interesting little creatures, 
capable of forming strong attachment, although ever ready to 
bite when provoked. 


The four large c 
The small scrie; 

xactly life s 

Fig. 212 — Mink tracks. 

Winnipegosis, Man., Sept. 2, 19c 
were made by a very large Mink. 

rthe right show the ordinary speeding gait of the Mink ; about 1 

s show in each, though it has (ivi 
5 covered at each bound. 


B88 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Resseque, of the Minkery, says:" "If taken in hand when 
their eyes are first open, they are readily tamed; they should 
not subsequently be allowed to remain with the mother or in 
each other's society. By continual petting and handling they 
become like domestic ratters, and have all the playfulness of 
the young of the feline tribe. They may be handled without 
fear of their sharp teeth, but they prove extremely mischievous, 
their scent leading them to food not intended for them. Their 
fondness for bathing will prompt them to enter a teakettle or 
any open vessel, and when wetted they will roll and dry them- 
selves in a basket of clothes fresh from the laundry, or even 
upon a lady's dress, occasioning much inconvenience." 

The two young Minks that I sketched in the menagerie of 
W. F. White, of Winnipeg, in August, 1905, were half grown 
and as tame and gentle as kittens. They were allowed to run 
free, but went usually into their own cage to sleep. They were 
the most restless little things I ever saw, their noses were never 
done sniffing and poking, their little bodies were never still, 
except during the brief hours of sleep. 

Merriam thus adds his testimony to the many who advo- 
cate the Mink as a ratter:''' "When taken sufficiently young 
he is easily domesticated and makes one of the very best 
of 'ratters.' He follows these common pests into their holes 
and destroys large numbers of them. The remainder are so 
terrified that they leave the premises in great haste and are not 
apt soon to return." 

There is doubtless great variation of character among 
Minks. Some seem to be born wastrels, freaks, or 'reverts' to 
their Weasel stock. I cannot otherwise account for my own 
experience with the young Mink already referred to as found 
in the hills near Carberry. His subsequent history is thus 
recorded in my journal: July 7, the young Mink brought 
home June 28 was put in with a litter of new-born kittens. 
The old cat received it kindly and suckled it as if it were her 
own. In a few days its eyes were opened. It was now strong 
and its horrid nature began to show itself. It often milked the 

" Coucs, Fur-bearing Atiim., 1877, p 183. '* Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 67. 

Mink H89 

cat till it was satisfied, then turned on its gentle foster-mother, 
trying to tear her. Several times the cat cried out but, seeing 
no marks, I thought it must be a trifling hurt; still she would 
not injure the little brute, but continued to nurse it tenderly. 
More than once I had to save one of the kittens from its jaws. 
To-day I found the hens in an uproar, and, on going to the 
place, found an old clucker rushing about with the diminutive 
Mink fastened to her neck. I choked it off and put it back 
with the kittens. 1 his afternoon I chanced to lift the cat up and 

Fig. 213 — Mink poses. (From life). 

VViuiiipet;. Auy. a^, i9"4- 

was horrified to find the Mink had bitten off four of the foster- 
mother's teats, lacerated her whole breast, and eaten a hole 
nearly into her bowels, and yer mother love made the poor 
creature keep on without harming the devil she was rearing. 
All of this ends to-day. 

The Mink has few enemies that are dangerous, for it is enemies 
a dangerous fighter, but the great horned owl must be reckoned 
with, as is shown by the following from A. N. Cheney.'" A 
friend of his was at the opening of his tent one nightfall, at 
Triton Club Lake. He had been " fishing, and his trout were 
in front of his tent, when a Mink came from somewhere and 
seizing a trout in its mouth made off with it, but before the 
Mink was out of sight a big owl swooped down, grabbed the 
Mink and made off with it into the air, and the last he heard 
of the Mink it was screaming pitifully up towards the zenith." 

" Forest and Stream, May 7, 1898, p. 371. 

890 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

When cornered and at bay he is the embodiment of savage 
ferocity. Dr. Coues has given us" a masterly picture of a 
Mink in a trap. "One who has not taken a Mink in a steel 
trap can scarcely form an idea of the terrible expression the 
animal's face assumes as the captor approaches. It has always 
struck me as the most nearly diabolical of anything in animal 
physiognomy. A sullen stare from the crouched motionless 
form gives way to a new look of surprise and fear accompanied 
with the most violent contortion of the body, with renewed 
champings of the iron, till breathless, with heaving flanks, and 
open mouth dribbling saliva, the animal settles again and 
watches with a look of concentrated hatred, mingled with 
impotent rage and frightful despair." 

This is the picture of a man who had seen it. He had eyes, 
but surely he lacked both ears and nose, else he had recorded 
the piercing screech of fear and fury, and the all-pervading, 
far-reaching, skunk-emulating musky stench with which the 
trapped Mink never fails to saturate the air, the place, the trees, 
the breeze, and so proclaim afar and afterwards that hereabouts 
a Mink was held in direst straits. 
BATTUNG When Mink meets Mink, the battle is worthy of such 

desperate and valiant warriors, and they meet much and often 
at certain seasons. So it is surprising how few have witnessed 
the deadly engagement. The following description is that of 
a man who beheld it with his own eyes.'* 

"It was my good fortune to witness a fight to death between 
a couple of male Minks a fortnight ago, one of the most fearless 
as well as silent struggles I ever saw. In one of the largest 
stone quarries in western Ohio, a small clear brook grows 
larger, deeper, and wider by the help of the clear sparkling 
water of many a spring, issuing from the crevices of the lime- 
stone and flowing through little hollows and around pieces 
of stone that have been thrown out as worthless. In the course 
of years the accumulation of rubbish or ' dump,' as it is termed, 
has made a perfect retreat for Minks, Weasels, and Rabbits. 

" Furbcaring Anim., 1877, p. 176. 

" Williamsburgh, Ind., Forest and Stream, Nov. 24, 1892, p. 444. 

Mink 891 

Having a considerable amount of dirt in it, the quarry affords 
a paradise for such animals that are in the habit of burrowing 
close to small streams. One afternoon as I was on my way 
to another block to give some instructions to my men, I acci- 
dentally glanced towards a small sandy spot running out into 
the stream, forming a peninsula or cape by the junction of a 
little brooklet and the main or larger brook. The spot was bare, 
with the exception of a few Spanish needles, and was overhung 
with small willows. Standing within six or eight feet of me 
were two large male Minks, eyeing each other intently, their 
small eyes looking like coals of fire, and with mouth slightly 
open, their backs arched, necks stretched forwards, their 
hind-legs close to the ground, they looked very much like 
miniature tigers waiting an opportunity to spring towards 
each other. 

"The first motion was a quivering of the bodies, followed 
by increasing rapidity in breathing. Then slowly each ad- 
vanced towards the other until i8 inches apart, when each 
seemed to be gathering all the strength possible to make a final 
leap. After standing motionless for a full minute, one of them 
turned his head a little to the right, and instantly the other did 
the same. Probably ten seconds elapsed while in this attitude 
when, quicker than the eye could follow, they sprang towards 
each other, and, catching by their throats just back of the lower 
jaw, held to each other with a grip that meant death to the one 
that should let go his hold. With a determination to conquer 
or die, they wound each other round and round until exhausted 
from loss of blood, when, spreading their fore-feet to brace 
themselves, they stood perfectly still until one of them stag- 
gered, then fell, pulling the other with him, laying them both 
down in the sand, growing weaker and weaker until they 
ceased to breathe. When they were dead I picked one of them 
up, and the jaws of each were so set that it was with difficulty 
I pulled them apart. The battle was probably of a minute's 
duration, in which time the animals never noticed my presence, 
or, if they did, they made no sign of their knowledge of it. I 
presume the object was for one to catch the other so close to his 


892 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

lower jaw that he could get no hold upon his enemy's throat, 
when a very short time would decide the battle." 

STORAGE There is a phase of the storage habit that is well developed 

in the Mink, and it must be distinguished from the carrying 
home of provender for the young. The first illustration at hand 
is given by Merriam,"* who found by the autumn nest of a 
solitary old Mink "the remains of a Muskrat, a Red-squirrel, 
and a downy woodpecker." I should like much to know the 
three very different chapters of hunting represented by these 
three captures. 

I have several times run after Mink on the open prairie and 
found it quite easy to overtake them. From this I should 
estimate their best speed on land at 7 or 8 miles an hour. 
Their bounds in ordinary travelling are from 10 to 15 inches 
clear. Though easily overtaken, catching them is quite a differ- 
ent matter, for they dodge with marvellous adroitness, and they 
are quick, too, at reading the little nature finger-posts that tell 
which way to run for a Badger hole or other haven in the earth. 

On October 3, 1884, while following a Mink through the 
snow in the Sandhills south of Carberry, I came to where it had 
tobogganed itself down a long hill, for a distance of 18 feet, 
after the manner of an Otter. 

On the water I should estimate its best travelling speed at 
I to I J miles an hour. This is not reckoning the dive or under- 
water spring that it can and must make to catch fish. It is 
much swifter than the Muskrat, but apparently cannot dive 
so far. I once saw a young male Mink hunted down among 
some floating logs. He might have escaped had he dived and 
swum fifty feet to the cover along shore, but he did not, ap- 
parently because he could not swim so far under water. 

H Its strength is illustrated in the following incident: 

While Duck shooting at Swan Lake, Man., October 18, 
1901, H. W. O. Boger, of Brandon, shot a mallard which fell 

" Mam. Adir, 1884, p. 66. 

Mink 893 

on the newly forming ice. An hour or two afterwards he saw 
a Mink come from the shore on the ice, which was then half an 
inch thick; it seized the mallard by the neck and dragged it 
away on the ice. Boger was seventy-five yards away; he 
shouted, but the Mink gave no heed; it dragged the duck to 
the rushes and disappeared with it. 

Coues mentions-" a similar case wherein the Mink dragged 
a mallard half a mile to get it to its hole. As a full-grown 
Mink weighs but 2 pounds, and a mallard over 3, it is as though 
an ordinary man had dragged a 200-pound man for half a mile, 
and did it with little difficulty. 

Charles Hallock records*' that he has known a Mink to 
come and steal his trout as fast as he caught them, until it 
had gone off with an aggregate weight of 12 pounds. 

This species is not a climber in the sense that a Marten is, climb- 
but it can and does occasionally go aloft. Dr. T. W. Gilbert, 
of Carberry, brought me a Mink that he shot out of a poplar 
tree at a height of 1 5 feet. In Minkeries it is found that though 
they cannot climb on a smooth surface, they easily go up a 
rough tree trunk or fence. 

All of the Weasels have anal glands which give ofi^ a very ^^^^^ 
strong and more or less offensive smell when the animal is 
excited. The Skunk, of course, is the grand master in this 
department, but the armament of the Mink is not to be de- 
spised. It cannot squirt its liquid musk out to a distance as 
can the Skunk, but it can and does pour forth a loathsome 
plenty when the proper occasion has, in its opinion, arrived, 
and this is whenever it considers itself in peril of its life, or is 
suffering grievous bodily harm, or enraged against a rival, or 
struggling in a trap. Merriam considers it a more unbearable 
stench than that of the Skunk, and adds:" "It is the most ex- 
ecrable smell with which my nostrils have as yet been offended, 
and is more powerful and offensive in some individuals than 

"Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, p. 179. '^ Ibid., p. 180. 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 67. 

894 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

in others — the difference probably depending upon season and 
age. In one specimen the fetor was so intolerably rank and 
loathsome that I was unable to skin it at one sitting, and, I am 
free to confess, it is one of the few substances of animal, vege- 
table, or mineral origin that have, on land or sea, rendered me 
aware of the existence of the abominable sensation called 

MiGRA- During October and November I have sometimes thought 

I saw signs of migration among the Mink, but it was quite 
erratic and may have been nothing more than the general 
rush for good places in which to settle for the winter, before 
the frost imposes on them a marked change in life. At this 
time I have often seen them out on the open prairie or in the 
daytime far from cover. At one or two farmhouses near 
Carberry, where I learned that Mink had arrived after the 
first snow, the tracks came from the north-west, but this may 
not have meant anything. 

TRAP- Though more wary than Skunk or Weasel, the Mink is 

easily trapped. Some of the old ones that have had painful 
experiences, become cunning, but most of them are unsuspicious 
of danger in any inanimate form, and will enter the most obvious 
of traps, especially if they be baited with the head or blood and 
brains of some large bird, delicacies that have as strong an 
appeal to the Mink as catnip for a cat, or honey for a Bear. 

In the fall of 1886, I put out a steel trap for a Mink that 
used to travel up the old DeWinton Slough, back of Carberry. 
The trap was set, by luck, just the day before he passed that 
way, but, unfortunately, a ruffed grouse chanced to run 
through the thicket and get into the trap, so the Mink, coming 
on the scene, discovered a feast ready prepared for him. On 
returning next day I found the remains of the grouse with 
other details of the affair, so reset the trap in the same place. 
Lutreola was lurking near; next night I caught him by the 
front foot, but he gnawed the foot off and escaped. I was 
prevented returring to the trap for several days. Then I 

Mink 895 

found the same Mink caught in it by the hind-leg. He had 
gnawed off the leg, but beyond the trap, and was still held by 
the stump. He was dead, and buried too, for he had raked 
together all the leaves, grass, earth, and sticks within the length 
of the chain. Trap and all were hidden; only his head and 
his remaining front arm were out of his self-made funeral 

The old-fashioned deadfall is the trap that should be used, 
as it does not injure the fur and it kills the animal instantly, 
so that there is no unnecessary suffering. The box-trap is 
effectual and humane if visited regularly. It should have, at 
the back, a window covered with |-inch mesh wire netting. 
It has the advantage of protecting its catch from passing 
marauders. The steel trap, if used, should be visited often. 
The less the creatures suffer the better the fur. In the un- 
happy case cited above the pelt was worthless. 

The fur of the Mink is a staple of the trade; it is a close, fur 
strong, beautiful fur, of great durability. Its market value 
varies much with the caprices of fashion, but it has always 
fetched a price that makes it worth catching. The high- 
water mark for Mink was about twenty-five years ago, when 
prime dark skins brought from $4 to ^^lo. Dr. Merriam 
records" having then sold one of unusual size for $14. 

Mink to-day is not high but rising. At the London annual 
fur sales, held at Lampson's, in March, igo6, 126,161 Mink 
skins were sold. The highest price paid was 40 shillings 
($9.60) each, for 102 extra large prime dark skins; 20 shillings to 
30 shillings (^4.80 to $7.20) was a more usual price for first- 
class skins; while third- and fourth-class skins went as low as 3 
shillings (72 cents). But this is a fur of standard attractions, 
and other furs are getting scarcer; therefore we can count on 
a steady rise in Mink. 

This is a cased pelt. It is prime from the first of Novem- 
ber to the first of April. It is unlawful to trap or destroy it in 
Manitoba at any other time. 

» Ibid., p. 66. 

896 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

During the eighty-five years, 1821 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 3,503,660 skins of this 
species, an average of 41,219 for each year. The lowest was 
4,549 in 1822; the highest, 90,080, in 1876. The average for 
the ten years, 1895 to 1905, was 57,729. 

Poland's lists show that during the seventy-one years, 1821 
to 1891 inclusive, 7,993,719 skins were taken by the other 
American companies, an average of 112,587 each year. So 
that the average annual catch of Mink for fur is about 154,000. 

In the year 1889 the total catch was about 400,000, or to be 
exact, 395,470 were marketed, with York Factory returns not 
included, as they did not arrive. 

The Mink returns show a steady general increase which 
seems to prove an increase of the Mink population since white 
men have possessed the country. 

BREEDING Thc high price that the fur commanded some twenty five 

FOR FUR c5 1 ^ ^ -/ 

years ago led several persons to try breeding Mink for the 
market. They multiply readily in captivity and are easily 
managed, so that the project seemed assured of success, when 
suddenly the fashion changed. Mink 'went out,' the price 
dropped below the possibility of profit, and ended the scheme. 
There is, however, every reason to believe that this was a 
temporary drop. On all hands we are confronted by these 
facts: the wild fur supply cannot be materially increased, the 
demand is getting greater, the prices are steadily rising. The 
fluctuations caused by fashion do not affect the main issue: a 
high-class fur will always fetch a high price. The breeder can 
greatly improve his stock by selection and so make all his 
product high-class. Many kinds of fur are breedable; one, at 
least, is sure to be in fashion. 

For the guidance, therefore, of those who wish to embark 
in such an enterprise, I give a brief account of the successful 
methods of the Minkery. 

Mink 897 


Mink are easily raised in captivity, and when their fur 
brings a good price, as at present (1908), mink-farming is a 
fairly profitable field for small capital. At least a dozen Mink- 
eries have been operated since the days of Resseque, who 
carried on the first of which we have detailed accounts. 
This was in the early 70's, at Verona, Oneida County, in north- 
ern New York State.-* 

The essential principles of a successful Minkery are intel- 
ligent individual care of each animal, perfect cleanliness, and 
moderate and varied feeding. 

A convenient Minkery for 10 breeding females and 2 
males might be thus planned: 

In the end are 12 cages, in 2 tiers. Each cage is 5 feet 
wide, 3 feet high, and 10 feet deep; made of close galvanized 
wire of |-inch mesh, with solid wood floor. In each is a wooden 
nesting box, 18 inches long, 9 wide, by 6 high. This has a 
3-inch doorway at one end of the long side, with a sliding door, 
which may be worked from outside to shut the animals in the 
nest, if desired. The door of the cage should be so large that 
this box can be lifted in and out. A long trough in front of 
each cage should contain running water. 

The two larger pens are open courts into which are door- 
ways opening from each cage. These should be surrounded 
by a tight 6 or 7 foot board fence, which is sunk in the ground, 
and there rests on a 2-foot underhang of stone, cement, zinc, 
or galvanized mesh wire. At the top of the fence, and across 
the front of the top cages, should be a 2-foot overhang of 
smooth boards or tin, and at the corners it should be 3 feet 

Mink are good climbers and diggers, but this arrange- 
ment will keep them in. Of course, a stone and cement floor, 
with a mesh wire roof, is surer, but more costly. 

"Described in Coues's Fur-bearing .\nim., 1877, P- 181; Forest and Stream, 
October 22, 1874, and Fanciers' Journal and Poultry Exchange, October 15. 1874. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The two runs are separated by a |-inch mesh wire with 
tin overhangs, and a tank of running water at the boundary 
affords bathing for both runs. These are shown here, about 
15 by 20 feet, but would be all the better if ten times as large, 

5 X 10 ft. 
3 ft. high 






Open Pen 


Open Pen 

I- .. 



NK 1 



Fig. 214 — A Model Minkery. 

provided they are tight. If they have cement floors, they 
should also have over that 6 inches of loose earth and a number 
of brush piles, hollow logs, etc., to make play places. 

FEEDING Mink may be fed exactly as one would feed a house-cat 

— table scraps, varied with meat two or three times a week. 
Fish is very much to their liking, and may be given nearly 
every day if other things are used. Bread and milk, johnny- 
cake, etc., should be added for variety; even raw liver may be 
given sparingly at intervals, but cooked food, as a rule, is safer. 

Mink 899 

Two light meals, morning and night, or one substantial 
meal, late in the day, is sufficient; and at all times an abun- 
dance of clean water. 

Mink may be bought either from advertising dealers or stock- 
through advertisements in the country newspapers. They 
bring from $i to ^lo each, according to size, age, and beauty. 
One male to half a dozen females is a usual allowance. 

The best come from Labrador, the poorest from the 
Mississippi and the South-west. 

It has proved far the best to keep the old ones apart, gen- 
One Mink, one cage, should be the rule for them; except, of man- 
course, in February — the breeding season — during which ^e^t 
month the male may be allowed to run with the half-dozen 
females, all in one large pen. They should be watched, how- 
ever, and quarrellers removed at once. Females that are 
known to have been served may be removed, at least for a few 
days; after which their behaviour, on again meeting the male, 
will show whether they have need for further attention. 

As a rule, all females come in heat within two weeks. By 
March 7 the season is over and the animals should be returned 
each to its own cage. Non-breeders that are sure not to quarrel 
may be left together in one cage. 

After six weeks' gestation the young are born; they num- 
ber 2 to 6. They are blind and helpless for some weeks. 
When about six weeks old, usually near June i, they begin 
to come out of the nest and take an active interest in life, fol- 
lowing the mother and eating her food. 

They are now easily tamed, gentle, and playful. 

By August, they are weaned and all may be taken from 
the mother and turned loose in the main run. The more they 
are gentled by handling the better. 

Their fur is ready for marketing at Christmas, is good any 
time from November to March; but Mink fur is greatly im- 
proved by keeping the animal till two years old, and, of course, 
by castrating the male. 

900 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Keep the best always for breeding. Do not use exception- 
ally fierce individuals for breeders. A fast day once in two 
weeks is a good thing for fat animals. 

Some breeders clip off the nail and first joint of the two 
middle toes on each front foot; this prevents the Mink climb- 
ing or digging. It is, however, a disfigurement as well as a 

The cages must be kept clean and the earth in the runs 
overturned or refreshed once a week. 

These animals are exceedingly clean and cause no smell, 
except, perhaps, when mortally hurt. They are easy to keep, 
need but little space and food, and breed regularly. 

When the fur is down to Skunk prices — that is, $i to $3 
a skin — there is no money in breeding Mink. At present the 
market is up, prime dark skins being $4 to ^8; exceptionally 
fine dark skins have gone as high as $15 and ^18. At these 
prices there is reasonably good money in the business; more 
especially if the Minkery is on a small scale and carried on in 
conjunction with a hen-yard or a squabbery, whose by-product 
will almost feed the fur-bearer. 


The Marten, Saskatchewan Marten or 
American Sable. 

Mustela aviericana ahteticola Preble. 
(Mustela, Latin for Weasel, applied by LinniEus to the European Marten, Mustela 
martes; americana, American; abielicola, from abies, a fir-tree, and colere, to in- 
habit, that is, 'fir-inhabiting.') 

Mustela americana TuRTON, 1806, Linn. Syst. Nat., I, p. 60. 
Type Locality. — Eastern North America. 

Mustela americana abieticola Preble, 1902, N. A. Fauna, 
No. 22, p. 68. 

Type Locality. — Cumberland House, Sask. 

French Canadian, la Marte: la Fouine. 
Cree & AIontagnais, fVah-pe-stan'. 
OjIB. & Salt., fVah-be-jay'-she. 
Chipewyan, Tha. 
Yankton Sioux, Mah-ha-pah-skay-chah. 

The genus Mustela (Linnaeus, 1758) is much like Putonus, 
but consists of larger animals, with bushier tails that are half as 
long as the body; large ears, and arboreal habits; they do not 
turn white in winter, that is, their winter coat is not very 
different in colour from that of summer. The dentition differs 
from that of Putonus chiefly in having 4 more premolars, and 
is as follows: 

T Z-Z i-i 4~4 1 i-i o 

Inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. — =30 

z-z i-i 4-4 2-2 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In addition to the generic characters, the Marten has: 
Length, about 25 inches (635 mm.); tail, 8 inches (203 mm.); 
hind-foot, 3I inches (95 mm.). (For skull, see Plate LXXXI, 
facing p. 968.) 

In general it is of a rich dark yellowish-brown, shaded 
into blackish on the tail and legs, and into gray on the head, 
with ear linings of dull whitish, and a large irregular patch of 
pale buff or orange on the throat and breast. But the general 
colour ranges in any given locality from golden-yellow to 
blackish-umber, and the patch on the throat from orange to 
white. The claws are white. 

When seen in the trees it gives the impression of a large 
dark Squirrel, with white ears and a yellow throat; when on the 
ground it looks like a dark-coloured young Fox. 

The following races are recognized: 

americana Turton, the typical form. 

abieticola Preble, which differs from americana 

chiefly in being much larger and in having 

heavier teeth. 
abtetinoides Gray, a dark-brown race. 
hrumalis Bangs, a large dark race. 
actuosa Osgood, a large gray race. 
kenaiensis Elliot, a small pale race without throat 




In one form or another the species ranges from ocean to 
ocean wherever there are heavy pine or fir forests, in the 
Canadian and Pacific Faunas, and northward. 

Its range in Manitoba broadly coincides with the unbroken 
coniferous forests. 

ENVIRON- This is one of the few species that really prefer the glooms 
^^■r of firs. It will not rest in broken woods, it shuns the border- 



lands, and the merest beginning of a clearing about the settler's 
home is enough to drive it away; consequently, it has always 
been one of the first to retreat before civilization. It is found 
in all the north-western half of the Province and on the Porcu- 

1 by E, T. S.. at Marvine, Colo., Sept. 19, 1901, 

pine. Duck, and Riding Mountains. J. S. Charleson got a 
specimen from the Carberry spruce woods and D. Nicholson 
heard of one or two on the Pembina Mountain in 1879, but 
not since, nor was it ever common there, for Alexander Henry 
records' from Park River in that same region, November 21, 
1800, "They take a chance Marten, but the latter are very 
scarce." This same traveller complains- that when he got to 
Icelandic River, on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg, on 
August 13, 1808, "The miserable country is destitute of large 
animals. Martens only are numerous and there is no good 

• Journal, 1897, p. 155. 

' Ibid., p. 452. 

904 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

HOME- I have no evidence on the home-range of the individual 


Marten beyond the opinion of trappers that it will range a mile 
or more around its head-quarters. George Linklater thinks 
that two square miles, in Algoma, will cover the usual beat. 
When food is scarce, however, it will travel for many miles in 
search of better hunting. 

ABUN- To form an idea of the Marten population I have consulted 

all authorities and available books as well as trappers and fur- 

Professor H. Y. Hind, in his " E.xploration of Labra- 
dor,"' says that an Indian who there took only 22 Martens all 
winter on a 30-mile line of traps, was thought to have had 
very bad luck. In this district, Moisie River, Martens were 
scarce. The same hunter, in a well-stocked region, the Mani- 
couagan Valley, caught 57 Martens in one month. As they 
were of good quality and brought the highest price then 
current ($5), he was now considered successful.'' 

Roderick MacFarlane writes me a personal experience 
during a season when Martens abounded in the North: 

" Many years ago, when I had charge of Fort Good Hope, 
Mackenzie River, I made a 15-miIe line of perhaps 100 dead- 
fall traps, baiting them with the heads of smoked fresh-water 
herring. A few days later I went to the end of the track, and 
on my way out I found quite a number of whiskey-jacks 
taken, and one or two Squirrels, while 8 Martens were secured 
dead. Most of the baits had, however, been removed by 
Mice and birds. On my way out I placed new baits in all 
of the traps, and 4 more Martens were found in them on 
my way back to the post. They were freshly taken. On 
my next visit a cussed Wolverine had preceded us, the few 
Martens secured were stolen by him, and the entire line de- 
molished. The brute kept around most of the winter, so 
that my total catch of the season was only about 60 skins. 
Had he kept away, I might have secured between 100 and 
200 skins. 

'' i86,:i, Vol. I, p. 195. ' Jhid., pp. 47-8. 


This map is founded chiefly on records by J. Richardson, J. Bachman, S. F. Baird. R. MacFarlane E^ W. Nelson, R. Bell^ 
A P Low C. Hart Merriani, O. Bangs. E. A. Preble, J. Macoun, W. H. Osgood, C, B. Bagster, D. L. Elhot, J. Fannin, J. D. F.ggic 
S.' n! Rhoads, A. E. Verrill, and E. R. Warren. 
The following are recognized: 

Musleh amerkana Turton, with its 6 races, Muslcia caurina Merriam, in 2 races courma and on 

KtetaaTalaBa^s. The Newfoundland species. Mu,uh ncsophila Osgood, in Queen Charlotte Islam 


906 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"I have also known a Saiiheaux prisoner from Lac la 
Pluie, banished to Mackenzie River for some crime in the 
fifties of the last century, capture 39 Martens out of 40 dead- 
fail traps made by him on a round of a dozen miles, just as the 
snow fell. That was what he got on his first visit, and the 
fortieth trap showed that a Marten was trapped but succeeded 
in getting away. 

"Two hundred Marten skins was the hunt (average) of 
the best Indian hunters at Fort Liard for several years when 
these animals were abundant in the early fifties. For output 
1853, the late William F. Lane (an Irishman) traded 12,000 
skins of the Marten at Liard, the best trade ever known there. 
The next year, under Robert Campbell, it yielded over 10,000, 
and some 2,000 less the next. During the decades of the forties 
and fifties, the Mackenzie River Marten trade was by far the 
best obtained before or since. In years of scarcity the trade 
has not averaged a fifth of those of plenty." 

From these and many parallel facts I conclude that 200 
Martens, taken in one winter on a 25-mile line of traps, would 
be a large haul; more, indeed, than the best Marten country 
could stand. A few years at this rate and the region would 
be trapped out. The area involved would be a strip 2 or 3 
miles wide. In other words, if 4 Martens were killed in two 
or three successive years on each square mile of a region that 
was thickly populated by the species, it would probably exter- 
minate them in that locality. From which we may argue that 
6 Martens to the square mile would be a high rate of popu- 
lation. I doubt if the number in Manitoba's pine woods 
to-day is a twentieth of this. 

The species is, indeed, becoming scarcer every year in all 
the southern parts of its range concerning which I have infor- 

FLucTu- One of the interesting unsolved problems of animal life, 

and especially of Marten life, is the periodic rise and fall of the 
population. The Marten continue to increase for seven or 

Marten 907 

eight years, until they seem ten times as numerous as at the 
beginning of the period; then they dechne quickly for one or 
two years until again near zero. 

This fluctuation must be due either to migration, epidemic, 
starvation, or destruction by trappers, or a combination of 

J. K. MacDonald, of Winnipeg, after 35 years' experi- 
ence as a chief trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, main- 
tains that migration is the cause. He writes: "I think there 
is sufficient proof that they do migrate. A question annu- 
ally put to the Indians returned from the woods in summer 
or fall was, 'What signs of Marten have you seen ?' and where 
but few of these animals may have been seen in the previous 
winter, I would be told, 'They are travelling north, south, east, 
or west,' as the case might be, and so definite was their knowl- 
edge that these Indians would go that winter to head off the 
wanderers, and they never failed to come in contact with them. 
These movements of large bodies of the Marten go on in sum- 
mer and till severe weather sets in, beginning again in March 
and continuing, as far as the males are concerned, till such time 
as the snow is not fit to travel on; and then on again during the 
summer. It is accepted as a matter beyond cavil by all 
Northerners — that is, Hudson Bay hunters — that the Hare, 
Lynx, and Marten do migrate, and the fluctuation in their 
numbers is not considered to be caused by epidemics — save 
in the case of the Hare. 

"The Rabbit is always numerous where Lynx and Marten 
are plentiful, and it is looked on as a sine qua non by hunters 
and traders that it is following up the Rabbit or Hare that 
causes these migrations — that the migration is, in fact, quest 
for food." 

Bernard Ross comes to a difi^erent conclusion. Writing 
of the periodical disappearance, he says:^ "It occurs in dec- 
ades, or thereabouts, with wonderful regularity, and it is 
quite unknown what becomes of them. They are not found 

» Can. Nat., 1861, VI, p. 28. 

908 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

dead. The failure extends throughout Hudson Bay Terri- 
tory at the same time and there is no tract or region to which 
they can migrate, where we have not posts or into which our 
hunters have not penetrated." 

This seems to prove that they are not migratory, and the 
aggregate fur returns of the whole country afford conclusive 
evidence that though there may be some local migrations, the 
fluctuations are general. That the whole Marten population 
increases and decreases with fair regularity in periods of eight 
to ten years. MacFarlane thinks that there is some migration 
but that other things enter into the problem. He believes that 
the abundance of the Martens is a direct result of abundance of 
Rabbits, and when the Rabbits fail, many Martens die, others 
migrate. His remarks" are as follows: 

"The scarcity and abundance of Marten and Lynx 
depend upon the scarcity and abundance of the Rabbit or 
Hare. Many Indians assert that Marten and Lynx (of which, 
by the way, not a few die off, especially when Hares are scarce) 
migrate, as well as most of the Rabbits which are not snared, 
etc., by the natives, or carried off by disease, and as they are 
not uniformly abundant all over the five territories (apart from 
the fact that they suddenly appear in localities where they 
had previously for a season or so been conspicuous by their 
absence) there seems to be good ground for the supposition 
that they migrate. There are other circumstances, also, such 
as an unfavourable season for breeding, a scarcity of the re- 
(piired food, and the destruction by fire of the extensive areas 
of forest, which would, of course, more or less affect the 
abundance of these and other species of animals in certain 

Moreover, he does not consider trapping the cause of the 
disappearance. He writes: 

"The theory of exhausting any wild tract of country by 
overtrapping will not apply to the territories of the Hudson's 
Bay Company. When Marten are abundant in good years, 

° In recent letter. 




a favourably circumstanced hunter will use the same line of 
traps as successfully season after season, and results only 
decline as the Marten disappear, and increase again as they 
come back. In this connection a very important factor is the 

Fig. 2i6 — Marten. 
Drawn by E. T. Sctou for the Biological Survey. U. S. Dept. Agr. N. A. Fauna, i6, 1899, p. 106. 

periodic greater or lesser fertility of the female. The Indians 
have made the same remark in respect to Beaver, Musquash, 
Fox, Mink, and Lynx." 

The problem is far from solved. Doubtless it is complex, 
but the facts as known may be thus summarized: There are 
many irregular local migrations and variations of the Marten 
population which, however, are not large enough to change 
materially the regular periodic rise and fall of its aggregate 

The Marten increases with the increase of the Rabbit, 
but begins to disappear while yet the Rabbit is abundant. 
I suspect that MacFarlane is near the truth when he 

yio Life-histories of Northern Animals 

makes it turn on the greater or less fertility of the female, 
which may be a result of the two causes, starvation and over- 
feeding. In famine years the females do not breed, and in 
years of overfeeding they do not breed; so the increase is 
ended. There is no evidence of epidemic to account for the 
disappearance of those already existing. Probably it is the 
result of many causes. The increase has been stopped and, 
owing to the growing scarcity of Rabbits and Mice, the F'isher, 
Foxes, and Lynxes — also greatly multiplied — prey now largely 
on the Marten. Cannibalism and starvation set in, and if any 
die by disease, they are never seen by man because devoured by 
beasts. Meanwhile hunger makes them ready to ente.r any 
baited trap, the trapper makes great catches, the surplus is 
soon worked off, and the Marten are reduced again to near zero. 

sociA- This interesting creature appears to be the least sociable 


of this unsociable family. Otters will meet to enjoy their 
slide in a merry party, Skunks will gather for warmth, the 
smaller Weasels will help each other in distress or in hunting, 
but, so far as I can learn, no man ever yet saw two adult Mar- 
tens meeting with feelings other than those of deadly hate; 
the one essential supreme exception to this is doubtless found 
in the moment of sexual congress. 

INTER- Not having many ideas that it wishes to communicate to 

N°c™ its kind, the Marten has few methods of communicating them. 

TioN -pj^g scent-glands, so important to its kindred, are greatly 
reduced in this species. 

SCENT- Nevertheless, the British Marten that I saw in A. H. 

Cocks's menagerie, made use of the musk gland at least every 
five minutes as they galloped about, pressing the parts on some 
projection of the cage. The sketches (Fig. 217) illustrate two 
in the act; both were males. It is easy to see how this may 
be a means of letting others of the kind know that a Marten 
has been here recently. 

Its voice is heard in a growl, a hiss, and a snarl which 
sometimes becomes a shrill screech. Cocks's Martens bleat 




like a lamb when hungry. Its grand directive label is the 
blazing patch of yellow, framed in dark-brown, which orna- 
ments its chin and throat. By this ye may know the Marten. 

The mating of Martens is shrouded in mystery. There is mating 
no positive evidence that they are monogamous, polygamous, 
polyandrous, or promiscuous. Apparently no one has ever 

Fig. 217 — British Martens rubbing their musk on projections on the cage. (From Hfe.) 

yet seen two adult Martens living together freely and amicably. 
Analogy seems to prove that the species pairs, but the slight 
evidence at hand would add that they part again in a few days; 
and the less they see of the cutthroat sire, the better for mother 
and young. This is all so unnatural and so largely founded on 
cage-observation, that we must hope for a pleasanter picture 
when better study of wild individuals supplies more reliable 

A curious item bearing on the relation of the sexes is 
supplied me by Madison Grant. In the winter of 1901 and 
1902, two Bitter-root guides set about catching Marten on the 
head-quarters of the Clearwater, with a view to starting a fur- 

9l'-2 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

farm. They said that they captured two dozen during the 
winter, but all were males, so in the spring they killed what 
they had and marketed the fur. They believed that the females 
were lying up and the males were feeding them. 

Miles Spencer says' that according to the Indians near 
Fort George, H. B., the Marten there mate about the first of 
March. I learn from the guides in Algoma, 600 miles farther 
south, the Marten pair from the 15th to the 20th of February. 
Captain R. Craine, of Wayagamug, Mich., tells me that in the 
winter of 1894 he captured a female Marten on the upper 
Fraser in British Columbia and kept her three months before 
she escaped. Of this individual he made many interesting 
observations. She came in heat early in March. At this time 
the anal parts were inflamed and swollen; she had a curious 
way of rubbing them on the floor. Sometimes she would back 
slowly up the wall of the cage, tail first, until she touched the 
top, and from time to time during the night she would utter a 
prolonged screeching, keeping it up until some one shouted at 

This is all the direct testimony I can find on their mating 

But the collateral evidence of the British Marten bred in 
captivity by A. H. Cocks (of Henley-on-Thames, England) is 
next best thing. "Litters of this species," he says, "have 
been bred in my collection. * * * All attempts at breeding 
were extremely hazardous: the allowing of a pair to run to- 
gether was apt to result in the death of the female, in conse- 
quence of one or more of the long canines of the male penetra- 
ting her brain, the damage being inflicted so instantaneously 
that there was no possibility of a timely separation. "' The 
union he believes takes place at night. I give a condensation 
of his account. 

"At last (first week in January), this year we noticed little 
mouthfuls of short straw deposited here and there in the cage 
of the female Marten, a sign of her being in season. * * * 

' Low, Expl. James Bay, Can. Gcol. Sun., 1888, Pt. J, -Xpii. Ill, p. 77 J- 
' Proc. Zool. Soc, December 4, igoo. 

Marten 913 

Accordingly a male was admitted from the adjoining cage 
on January ^ * * * and the pair finally separated on the 
1 8th. * * * Young were born early on April 22. * * * The 
probable period of gestation of this species is, therefore, a 
few hours over 103 days, the extreme of possibility ranging 
from g6 to 106 days." 

A. H. Cocks very appositely remarks here that this dura- 
tion is a surprise, as the Pole-cat goes 40, the Otter 61, and the 
Ferret about 42 days. 

All observers agree that the nest is made by the female nest 
alone. The favourite place is a hollow tree, but sometimes a 
burrow in the ground is selected; it is carefully lined with 
grass and moss. 

The young number from i to 5; are usually 3 or 4, and are young 
born in late April. Spencer says,° on the evidence of his 
Indians, that at first "they are the size of a new-born 
kitten, brown and black in colour [not white], helpless, 
with closed eyes. The female suckles the young for a 
period of 5 weeks and is unassisted by the male in rearing 

George Linklater, of Des Barats, once saw a female out 
in May with 4 young ones that she was teaching to hunt. 
This was in Algoma. 

Since the young need the mother's care all summer, we 
must believe that but one brood is produced each year. Here 
the positive evidence gives out, but help for future observations 
may be found in Cocks's notes qn the development of an 
English Marten brood that he reared in captivity. His main 
facts are as follows:"' 

They were born April 7, 1882. They numbered 3 (2 
males, i female), and at first all were quite white. On the loth 
one examined was 6 inches long; of this the tail was i| inches. 
On the 14th the white fur was grizzled. On May 6th, they 
were yet blind, but some time prior to the 20th, that is, at a 
little over four weeks, their eyes opened. On the 29th, the 

° See Note 7. '" See Note 8. 

914 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

mother first fed them flesh meat. On June 23, at seven weeks 
of age, they first left the nesting box and came to the ground. 
In autumn they were full grown. 

One pair which bred in captivity lived till their seventeenth 


This is the most arboreal of all our Weasels. It delights 
in climbing from crotch to crotch, leaping from tree to tree, or 
scampering up and down the long branches with endless power 
and vivacity. One cannot long watch a Marten, even in a cage, 
without getting an impression of absolutely tireless energy. 
For hours it will race up and down, leaping from perch to 
wall, to ground, to perch, to wall, to ground, to perch, over and 
over again, doing endless gymnastic feats, giving countless 
surprising proofs of strength, with bewildering quickness, all 
day long, without a sign of weariness, without a quickening of 
its breath. It must travel many hard miles each day in this 
way, yet it is complained that in confinement they sufi^er for 
lack of exercise. 

Active as a Squirrel is an old adage, and yet the Squirrel 
is commonly the prey of the Marten. 

It is remarkable that the Marten should follow the Red- 
squirrel in all its range, but hardly anywhere encroach on the 
territory of the large Gray- and Fox-squirrels — species which 
seem to afford special inducements to the active destroyer, for 
their numbers are great, it can follow into their holes, and 
their weight is so nearly that of its own that it would have no 
handicap in the leaps from tree to tree. 

Daniel Hayward, of Oxford County, Maine, says:" "It is 
impossible for Gray-squirrels to exist in the same locality with 
the Sable, as their sizes are about the same, and the Squirrels 
easily become their prey. They will also outstrip the Red- 
squirrel, and capture him if he confines his retreat to the trees 
instead of entering holes too small for the Sable to follow. 
He will pounce upon and overpower a partridge or Rabbit, 
but usually takes the latter by the long chase, which seemingly 

" Shooting and Fishing, Vol. ig, Nov. 26, April 16, 1896, p. 537. 

Fig. 2i8— Attitudes of Martens. 

Drawn from life. Chiefly in Philadelphia Zoo, 1899. 


9i<> Life-histories of Northern Animals 

lasts often for many miles, which speaks well for his endurance 
and persistent running abilities." 

Dr. Merriam, while admitting the beauty and grace of 
the Marten, says, however:'- "Its disposition is sadly out of 
harmony with its attractive exterior. Mr. John Constable has 
related to me a most interesting and vivid account of an affray 
that he once witnessed, in company with his brother, Mr. 
Stephen Constable, between a Marten and a great Northern 
Hare. The Marten, generally so meek and docile in appear- 
ance, assumed the savage mien and demeanour of a fierce 
tiger, as it attacked and slew the luckless Hare — an animal 
several times its own size and weight — and even after the poor 
Hare was dead the Marten's fury did not abate, and he angrily 
jerked and twisted the lifeless body from side to side, as if to 1 
wreak vengeance, for sins never committed, upon the defence- 
less body of his victim. So intent was he upon this deed of 
carnage that he was utterly oblivious of the human spectators, 
who put an end to the scene by driving a bullet through his 
obdurate pate." 

There is much evidence on record to show that Martens 
taken young are easily tamed and soon acquire an attachment 
for the one who feeds them, but never become quite docile. 
Captain Craine's Marten was fond of being petted by her 
owner, but continued savage to all strangers. On the other 
hand, many observers testify that in the north-west one often 
sees tame Martens following the Indian children, who catch 
them young and bring them up as pets; these are as tame and 
playful as kittens. 

BOTH Several authorities maintain that the species is nocturnal 

AND and many that it is diurnal. My own experiences incline me 

to the latter view or both. Obviously, it could not hunt 

Squirrels by night. But it does hunt by night to some extent. 

No doubt at this time it preys on Mice, but it is so wonderfully 

clever at hiding that it is rarely seen. 

D. Hayward, of Maine, says:'^ "The Marten is an animal 

"Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 52-3. "Sec Note 11. 










not very often seen at large. I 
have caught as many as 1 1 in 
one day, but in all my experi- 
ence in the woods have only seen 
3 alive and at liberty. This has 
been thought to be accounted 
for by their being nocturnal in 
their habits, but such is not 
strictly the case. I have often 
seen their tracks made in the 

Roderick MacFarlane tells 
me that he has several times 
found Martens taken in his traps 
on the same day as they were 
set, in fact but an hour or two 
afterwards, although the animal 
was rarely seen. But he also 

"I have known Martens 
come inside our fort at night to 
get at white-fish hung on stages, 
and some have actually been 
trapped in such places." 

I conclude that the creature 
hunts chiefly by day when the 
sun is low, but occasionally by 

A Marten in a cage is a 
picture of life and energy alert to 
everything. Its keen eyes are 
quick to take in each new sight 
and its ears acock for any new 
sound. It twists its head on one 
side and peers and sniffs with evi- 
dent curiosity at every strange 


918 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

object. All the hunters agree that this hankering to know, this 
itch to see, smell, and find out, is a master failing of the Marten. 

" Mr. Constable tells me that when a hunter discovers a 
Marten climbing about among the tree tops, he has only to 
whistle and the inquisitive animal will stop and peer down at 
him, affording an excellent shot."" {Merriam.) 

Similar observations are found in Kennicott's account. 
"The retreat of the Martens [he says]'^ is usually in standing 
hollow trees, and * * * in winter they may frequently be dis- 
covered sitting with their heads out of the holes. As, if shot 
in this position, they would fall back and be lost, advantage is 
taken of their inquisitiveness by walking slowly around the tree 
and inducing the animal to draw its body entirely out of the 
hole, in order to keep the object of its curiosity in view. When 
quite out, a well-directed shot brings it to the ground." 

Curiosity is a beginning of knowledge, and is proof of 
intelligence. These observations, therefore, give to the Marten 
a higher place among its kin than would its behaviour in family 

What moss is to the Reindeer, what grass is to the cattle, 
the Mouse millions of the North are to all the Northern Carni- 
vores from Bear to Blarina. When we shall have fully worked 
out the life-history of each of these species, I believe we shall 
learn that the whole of that vast beautiful, important, and 
specialized production that we call the Carnivora rests on a 
broad simple basis or Muridae that in turn rests on the grass, 
that rests on the earth. We shall for each of these flesh-eaters 
write, 'it sometimes eats this and sometimes eats that, but by 
far the greatest bulk of its food is Mice.' This is eminently 
true of the Marten. Its diet comprises partridge. Rabbits, 
Squirrels, Chipmunks, Mice, Shrews, birds, birds' eggs, fledg- 
lings, frogs, toads, fish, and insects of course; but it also adds 
reptiles, nuts, berries, honey, and even carrion. 

A. P. Low, Director of the Canadian Geological Survey, 
tells me that the rowan berries (Sorbus americanus) are a 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 53. " Quad. 111., 1859, p. 243. 

These were owned by G. A. Paddock. They were extremely playful but mischievous when allowed their liberty. 

Marten 919 

winter staple of the species, and many of these animals die of 
starvation in the 'off' years of the rowan. 

The Marten, then, hke everything else, is omnivorous, but 
I am satisfied that Mice constitute a larger proportion of its 
food than any other on its bill of flesh fare. 

It is interesting to note that the species never ventures 
near the habitation of man in the settlements, so that it is un- 
known as a depredator of the hen-yard. In the North, also, 
it usually shuns the vicinity of the trading posts. In this it 
differs from all of its near kin in America as well as from its 
cousin, the Marten of Europe. 

Each fresh investigation adds more creatures to the list stor- 

. . . . AGE 

of those that lay up for a rainy day. It is surprising to find 
that most of the Weasels store food, when they have a surplus. 
Linklater says that the Marten habitually does so. It eats as 
much as it can of the new catch, then buries the rest. This is 
true storage because, by setting a trap at the buried piece, you 
are sure to get your Marten next day. 

The Fisher and Lynx are supposed to be the chief enemies ene- 
of the Marten. They are able to take it by open onslaught, 
therefore, doubtless, in the great struggle they count for little 
as destroyers. The really dangerous foes are likely to be much 
less dramatic and obvious. We shall probably find that the 
Marten's numbers are kept down by something as intangible 
as it is unexpected and irresistible, possibly a parasite, a disease, 
starvation, some evil habit of the race, or, as MacFarlane sug- 
gests, an inexplicable periodic non-fertility of the females, a 
non-fertility that I should not be surprised to find a consequence 
of over-abundant food, which is often as bad as starvation in 
its effect on the reproductive organs. 

An Adirondack acquaintance, Bert A. Dobson, was 
favoured with an interesting peep into Marten life, and told 
me of it as follows: November 14, 1900, he had posted himself 
in a ravine on a Deer path near Moosehead Pond, to wait for 

920 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

a chance as the Deer were running on rut. In the tree below 
he saw several bluejays shrieking and mobbing something 
which turned out to be a Marten that had gone up to sun itself 
in an old crow's nest. Every time the jays swooped the 
Marten would rise up and hiss like a cat. Dobson shot it 
through the head from his stand. 

sANiTA- Captain Craine's Marten and all those observed by me in 

captivity, have habitually kept one corner of their cage for the 
dung-pile. I shall welcome the discovery that this rudiment 
of sanitation is found with this species when wild, for hitherto 
the investigations have revealed little of redeeming virtue, but 
rather tended to show that this externally lovely creature is in 
disposition absolutely the most unlovely reprobate of all the 
sanguinary group to which it belongs. 

DISEASE According to Hutchins,'" "this animal is sometimes 

troubled with epilepsy." A. H. Cocks also informed me that 
the British Marten, Stoats, and Weasels in his collection are 
subject to fits. 

TRAP- This fur-bearer is unsuspicious and greedy, and therefore 

easily trapped. Three different ways are practised. First, 
the old-fashioned deadfall, made on the ground of logs and 
sticks, so slightly and so simply that a trapper can make and 
set half a dozen of them in an hour. The principle of this is 
shown in Figs. 220-22 1 . This is the quickest and most humane 
way to kill the animal. The objection to it is that the Wolver- 
ine, Fisher, and Wolf will follow a trapper for weeks, destroy- 
ing his traps for the bait or destroying the catch itself. Half 
a dozen to a mile on a 20-mile round was a usual line of 

The second method is the steel trap set in a little cup- 
board on the side of a tree. This cruelly starves the animal 
to death, unless the weather is cold enough to freeze it or the 
trapper comes often on the rounds. When using this kind the 

'»F. R. A., Vol. I, p. 51. 

Fig. 220— Section of deadfall, showing trigger set. 

Fig. 221— Front view of deadfall set for Marten. 

922 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

trapper is much pestered by Red-squirrels and Canada-jays, 
which tug at the bait and get caught. 

The third kind is the old-fashioned box-trap. When this 
is set with a large bait, it ensures the Marten being kept in food 
and comfort for days, and thus the trapper has the option of 
killing it mercifully and getting its fur, without injury by trap, 
climate, or marauders. Furthermore, he may nowadays take 
it to market alive, and get a much larger price. 

The Winnipeg market quotations for March 26, 1904, 
were: For prime Marten, large dark, $6 to $12; large brown, 
1^3.50 to ^7; light pale, ^2.50 to ^5. New York prices 
were in advance of these; ^20 to $30 is a common price for 
the choicest skins to-day, and the trend of Marten is steadily 

At the London annual fur sales, at C. M. Lampson & 
Co.'s (64 Queen Street, E. C), March, 1906, 21,136 Martens 
were sold. The highest price reached was 290 shillings (^70) 
each for 24 very dark large skins of exceptional beauty; and 
140 shillings ($33.60) each for 58 extra fine dark skins. But 
50 shillings to 100 shillings ($12 to $24) each were ruling prices 
for No. I dark selected Marten; 30 shillings to 40 shillings 
($7.20 to ^9.60) were usual prices for second-class skins; 
third-class skins brought about 20 shillings ($4.80), from 
which they graded down to fourth-class, of which 92 were 
sold at 5 shillings ($1.20) each. 

Russian Sable, however, brought about three times as 
much, and one lot of 8 extra large No. i-A, colour black with 
silver, brought the astonishing price of 980 shillings ($235) 
each skin. This is probably record price, but these 8 were the 
pick of 12,007 skins. 

During the eighty-five years, 1821 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 7,006,554 skins of this 
species, an average of 82,418 for each year. The lowest was 
25,524 in 1829; the highest, 177,052, in 1854. The average 
for the ten years, 1895 to 1905, was 63,926. 

Marten 923 

Poland's lists show that during the seventy-one years, 1821 
to 1 89 1 inclusive, 2,611,500 skins were taken by the other 
American companies, an average of 36,781 each year. So that 
the average annual catch of Marten for fur is about 119,000. 


The supply of Marten has not very seriously diminished, 
but it has fallen far behind the demand, and the price of the 
pelt is steadily going up. Realizing that so fine a fur will 
always find a market, several persons have made attempts 
at Marten-farming, but so far without success. The animals 
are hard to get alive, have not hitherto bred in captivity, 
and are so murderously quarrelsome among themselves that 
if half a dozen Marten be put in a large cage, only one, 
the strongest, will be left alive in a very few weeks. Two 
of my trapper friends, Staley and Leeds, of Idaho, found 
this out to their cost when they turned several choice speci- 
mens loose in a large barn; although they had food, room, 
and nesting places in abundance, one only survived the 
first month. These trappers also caught an old male and 
a young female and put them together in an 8-by-io-foot 
cage during my sojourn, September, 1902. They quar- 
relled day and night, and a week later the female was killed 
by her companion. 

The first lesson to be drawn is clear. This wholesale 
big-cage-plan has not succeeded with any species, and is least 
of all likely to do so with Martens. Separate cages, judicious 
management with selection of the gentler individuals, would 
doubtless solve the breeding problem and open the way to 
successfully raising them for their fur, just as similar methods 
have succeeded with the Fox. 

While no one so far as I can learn has ever bred the 
American Marten in captivity, its near kinsman, the British 
Marten, has been successfully managed by A. H. Cocks, of 
Henley-on-Thames, England, and a careful study of his re- 
sults published in the "Zoologist" (1881, p. ^;^^; 1883, p. 203; 

9'^4 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1897, p. 270, & Proc. Zool. Soc, December 4, 1900), and given 
to me personally when I visited his collection, should be of the 
greatest interest to the fur-farmer. 

In the light of these experiments, together with the results 
obtained in various Zoloogical Gardens, I should advise separate 
cages of |-inch mesh galvanized wire, each cage about 6 feet 
wide, 6 deep and 5 high, with a floor, preferably, of cement. 
The north side, with a part of the east and west sides and the 
portions of roof belonging, should be of boards to shut ofi^ the 
wind; the rest open to the sun. Each cage should have a good- 
sized doorway (2 feet by 2) leading to the cage on each side; 
all should have a large door opening on a wired alley, itself 
a complete cage, to prevent escapes. Each should contain a 
few large branches or trunks and in a quiet sheltered corner a 
well-roofed nesting box (12 by 12 by 24 inches long). The 
hole into this should be about 3 inches across, turned away 
from the front, and should have a sliding door that may be 
operated quickly and quietly from the outside when it is de- 
cided to shut the animal in. The sleeping box should be 
movable and easily drawn out from the outside, as this 
facilitates the handling and transfer of the animals. The 
floor, if of boards, should be treated with boiled linseed 
oil and afterwards covered with sawdust. Clean food 
and water pans should be arranged, and every provision 
made for continuous and perfect cleanliness. The plan 
shown in the Skunk-farming article will answer for Marten, 
if we leave out the two large pens and roof each cage with 
fine meshwire. 

FOOD, They should have one meal a day. This may be partly 

raw meat, fowl, or fish, but variety is healthful, and they will 
be found to eat table scraps and even fruit at times. Over- 
feeding is as dangerous as underfeeding, and much more 
likely to prevent breeding. One animal, one cage, should be 
the rule. Everything should be done to 'gentle' them, and 
they should early be accustomed to handling. 


Marten 9'^ 5 

About the first of January it is well to look for signs of the breed- 
females coming in heat. These, according to A. H. Cocks, in 
the articles cited, are usually two or three short straws laid 
across each other in various parts of the cage. They are 
mouthed and slobbered over by the female, but apparently 
are not musked. These, he believes, are left about to attract 
the attention of a possible mate. 

The male should now be introduced and left for a week or 
ten days. This is the critical time, as for slight cause he may 
kill his partner. Such reprobates should be blacklisted, if 
possible, and never again used. Selections of the gentler 
males would in time produce a less murderous race. It is a 
good plan to make the mating cage of extra size, with many 
dens and corners, so that the female may have every chance to 
escape if the male should have one of his murderous impulses. 
She should be left alone again and always as quiet as possible. 

In about three months the young arrive and should not be young 
disturbed. When nine or ten weeks old they begin to appear 
outside the nest; at four months they may be weaned; at six 
months they are fully grown and should be put into separate 
cages. They will be ready to breed at nine months. Castra- 
tion of the surplus males would doubtless improve their size 
and coat; probably the second or third year will prove best for 
marketing the fur, and it is at its best between November and 
Christmas. It is barely possible that skilful breeding may 
produce a race that would have progeny twice a year, and thus 
the returns would be doubled. 

Although a Marten's pelt does not fetch more than a tenth fur 
of what a Silver-fox's does, there are several offsets. The 
Marten can do with a tenth of the space, a quarter of the food, 
and is much easier to keep clean, so that the labour of running 
a Marten ranch is comparatively slight, and many more indi- 
viduals can be handled by one person. If Russian Sables 
(which are Siberian Martens) can be got for stock, the returns 
for the same labour may at once be multiplied by three. 

Pekan, Fisher, Blackcat or Pennant Marten. 

Mustela pennant! Erxleben. 

(L. Mustela, a weasel; pennanti, in honor of Pennant, the EngHsh naturalist.) 

Mustela pennanti Erxleben, 1777, Syst. Regn. Anim., I, p. 470. 
Type Locality. — Eastern Canada. 

French Canadian, le Pekan. 
Cree, Ojib., & Saut., Oo-djeeg'. 
Chipewyan, Tba-cho (Big Marten). 

The name 'Pekan,' first recorded by Charlevoix (1744) 
and popularized by Buffon, 1765, is the Abenaki name, 
adopted without change (Rasles, Abenaki Diet.). It is used 
chiefly in books, but has some currency among the French 

In Trumbull's Natick dictionary the name given is 
'Pekane.' C. G. D. Roberts tells me that in Micmac it is 
called 'Pekwahm,' and Tappan Adney that the Melecite is 
'P'gumpk,' or sometimes ' Pekonk.' 

'Fisher,' the usual name, is a sad misnomer, as the animal 
does not fish. DeKay considers' that, probably, it was so 
styled on account of its singular fondness for the fish baits 
used in trapping. 'Blackcat' is a name often applied in 

"Wejack, the appellation under which Hearne mentions 
it, is a corruption of its Cree or Knisteneaux name, otchtvck, and 
the word 'Woodshock' has a similar origin."- 

' Zool. N. Y., 1842, I, p. 32. = Richardson, F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 53. 

Fisher 927 

In addition to the generic characters which it shares with size 
the Marten, the Fisher has the following: 

Length, about 36 inches (915 mm.); tail, 14 inches (356 
mm.); hind-foot, 4 inches (102 mm.). The female is smaller. 

Bachman gives^ 8| pounds as the weight of a young male, weight 
M. Hardy, after weighing many, found thent 8 pounds to 12^ 
pounds.^ B. R. Ross says the largest he ever caught was 18 

In general its colour is grayish-brown or brownish-black, colour 
lighter on the sides, browner below; darker, sometimes quite 
black, on snout, ears, feet, and tail; and on the head, neck, and 
shoulders so much tipped with whitish that it has a grizzly 
gray appearance; the ears have pale linings; like all of the 
group, it varies greatly in intensity of colour; the claws are 
whitish horn-colour. 

When in its natural surroundings, the Fisher suggests a 
big black cat with bushy tail, or else a black Fox, according as 
it is seen in the trees or on the ground. 

Two races are recognized: 

pennanti Erxleben, the typical form. 
pacifica Rhoads, with larger skull and upper molars, 
also some colour differences. 


The Fisher is found in the great pine and spruce forests range 
from Maine to latitude 62° on the Mackenzie River and west 
to the Pacific Ocean. 

In Manitoba it is rare. W. R. Hine saw one killed on the 
Assiniboine, near Headingly, some years ago, and had another 
from the Seine beyond Point du Chene. I found it in the pine 
forest about Rat Portage, and have seen one or two brought 
from the region between Lakes Manitoba and Winnipeg. 

' Q. N. A., 1849, Ii P- 309- * Shooting and Fishing, April 13, 1899, p. 526. 
» Can. Nat., 1861, VI, p. 24. 

i^-i^ Lifc-historics of Northern Animals 

1 Ik- Indians tcll inc that it is fonnd on the eastern part of the 
north coast of Lake Winnipegosis, and on tlie south side of 
Dawson's Hay, but not elsewhere in that country. A. ilenry 
reports:" "Noveniber 21, 1800, few Fishers along upper Red 

ENVIRON It is essentially a forest animal, living on the ground or 

in the trees, but is not known to burrow, or habitually take 
refuge in holes underground. Tiiis, no doubt, is a weak place 
in its cndovvinent; it must disappear with the forests. Only 
those forest animals that are also undergound species are able 
to hold tluir own against the axe of the pioneer. Good 
exani|)lrs of this are seen in the Woodchuck, the Red-squirrel, 
and the C'hipminik. 

Although not a(]uatic, it seems to prefer the neighbourhood 
of swamps, especially if these be among large timber. In the 
Bitter-roots of Idaho 1 found it following the bed of a stream 
that was nearly dry. The trajipers on the Ottawa tell me that 
it lives much more on the ground there than in the trees, and 
that it follows regidar rimways. 

INDIVID- Cieorge Linklater, the Des Barats guide, believes that 

RAwe.E the home-range of the individual Fisher is smaller than that 

of the Marten. This hardly comports with the family 

habit, as their range usually corresponds closely with their 


Madison Grant tells me that one of his British Columbia 
guides had a number of experiences with a large Fisher that 
appeared in his locality about every ten or fifteen days, ap- 
jiarently absent during the interval. No doubt, it had a very 
small home-range while about the camp, but during the two 
weeks elsewhere it probably changed its home locality half a 
dozen times. These observations tend to show that it has a 
certain beat, as have the Otter and Mink, a circle of jierhaps a 
dozen miles around, along which it has dens, that it frequents 
in turn. 

" [(HiriKil, tS()7, p. 155. 


Muilcla fifnnanll Erileben 
Founded chieSy on records by J. Richardson, B. R. RobS, Audul<on & liachrnan, E. W, Nelwjn, C. H. Townsend, R. ilacFarUne, J. A. 
Allen, S. N. Rhoads, L. M. Turner, A. P. Ixnr, O. Bangs, C. Hart Merriam, J. Fannin, and E. T. Seton. 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 


Nowhere in all its extensive range can the Fisher be 
styled abundant, yet Hardy says:' "It is by no means a rare 
animal in Maine, being about as plentiful back from the settle- 
ments as Otter. When in the fur-trade I used to buy 175 to 
200 skins annually. While these were not all taken in Maine, 
I think, from the best data I could get, that the annual catch 
of Maine was 1 50 to 300. The catch varies greatly in different 
years, just as that of Sable does, as some years both take bait 
better than others." 

The mating is believed to take place about the first of 
March, and I find among trappers a prevailing opinion that the 
species pairs. 

The animal is so scarce, and its nest so well concealed, that 
the latter has but rarely been found. It is usually made in a 
hollow tree at considerable height from the ground, 30 or 40 
feet, but has been found in logs and rocky crevices. Although 
a Fisher is larger bodied than a Fox, it can readily enter a hole 
but 4 or 5 inches in diameter. 

The young are born about the first of May. They number 
from I to 5, 2 to 3 being usual. The only litter I ever saw con- 
sisted of 3. 

In May, 1899, a nest was discovered by some Indians in 
the woods north of Lake Winnipeg. It was, as usual, in the 
hollow of a standing tree and about 40 feet up. The young, 3 
in number, were bought by N. E. Skinner, in whose possession 
I saw them at Winnipeg on August 7 of that year. They were 
then about half grown and exceedingly playful. They showed 
plainly their Marten affinities, and yet had a close resemblance 
to a family of Silver-foxes, consequently I was not surprised to 
read in Kennicott's account that the species has in some parts 
been called the 'Black-fox.' 

While quite small the young appear to quit the nest and 
follow the mother, like young Martens. Professor Spencer F. 
Baird tells" of an old female and one well-grown young one 

' See Note 4. " Aud. & Bach., Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, pp. 312-13. 

Fisher 931 

that were treed in the Peter Mountains, 6 miles above Harris- 
burg, Pa., about the first of February. There was a most 
desperate fight before "the old one was killed, after having 
beaten ofif the dogs, to whose assistance the hunters were 
obliged to come." 

The young one was taken alive; the old one proved a 
female. She was "no doubt the mother of the one that was 
captured, and probably died in hope of saving her young." 

So far as is known, the young do not usually continue so 
long with the mother; and the father takes no part in rearing 

But one brood is produced each year. 

Like most Weasels, this is neither sociable nor grega- socia- 

. . . . BILITY 

rious. I never heard of anything like a social gathering 
of Fishers. They have, therefore, but few methods of in- 

Its vocal powers are fairly developed. Those from which voice 
I made the sketches, uttered an occasional snarl at each other. 
"A Maine trapper writes: 'Their noise is like a child when it 
cries in a mournful tone, and again it makes a short, sharp 

Bachman describes'" a male that was treed, as "showing 
his teeth and growling at the same time * * * elevating 
his back in the manner of an angry cat," and another as "very 
spiteful, growling, snarling, spitting when approached," and 
emitting "a rather strong musky odour." 

The Fisher is a true Marten, endowed with all the tricks, habits 
activity, and the peculiarities of the race. It is probably our 
most active arboreal animal. The Squirrel is considered a 
marvel of agility, but the Marten can catch the Squirrel and the 
Fisher can catch the Marten, so that we have here a scale of 
high-class agility, with the Fisher as superlative. L. War- 

• J. G. R., of Bethel, Me., Forest and Stream, June 24, 1S86. 
'° Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, pp. 310 and 312. 

932 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

field, after much experience, says" this animal is capable of 
"jumping from tree to tree like a Squirrel, clearing a distance 
of 40 feet on a descending leap and never failing a secure 
grip." And there are several records of Fishers leaping to the 
ground from a height of 40 feet. 

In descending a tree it often comes down head first. But 
for the Monkeys and some others, we might believe it a rule that 
no creature is truly at home in the upper world till it can come 
down head first when it likes. 

Though so active in the tree tops, it is equally at home on 
the ground, and is so indefatigable and long-winded that it is 
known to run down Rabbits and Hares in open chase. If only 
it could swim and dive well, it would be the most wonderfully 
equipped animal in the world. 

It has much of the blind pertinacity of the smaller Weasels. 
When I was at Rat Portage, in October, 1 886, an Indian brought 
in a superb Fisher, fresh killed. He saw the animal chasing a 
Hare. The Hare, with the pursuer close behind, circled about 
him. He saw the Fisher several times, but could get no shot 
until the very moment when it sprang on the Hare; then he 
fired and killed both animals with the same charge. 

Its courage, too, is of a high order. In my early days I 
more than once was told of P'ishers — or Blackcats, as they were 
called in Ontario — which attacked boys and dogs that had 
disturbed them. I never saw one of these attacks, but they 
were generally believed in, for all the hunters and trappers 
entertain great respect for the prowess of this remarkable 

woLVER- Though a Marten in most things, the Fisher has many 

tricks in common with the Wolverine. According to Hardy," 
one of our best authorities on the species, Fishers often follow 
up a line of Sable traps to destroy them, stealing the bait, or 
eating any Sable caught in them. "Usually," he says, "they 
tear down the boxing or take off the covering from the log 

" Quoted in Merriam's Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 49. " See Note 4. 


^'^Z / 

Fig. 222 — Life studies of Fisher. 

The old specimens from Maine ; the young- from near Winnipeg. 


934 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

traps, and reach in above the fall and spring the trap. I have 
had a Fisher remove a piece of water-soaked wood from the top 
of a trap, set for him, which would weigh a great deal more 
than he would, then spring the trap. If log traps are set in 
hollow trees or stubs, they cannot fool with them, and most 
hunters consider them surer than steel traps." 

These details are corroborated by Dr. Merriam, but he 
adds" that the Fisher is "said to be less objectionable than 
the Wolverine in one particular, /. e., it leaves the traps where 
it finds them, while the other blackleg lugs them off and hides 

B. R. Ross's account'* of the immense Fisher that he 
caught at Riviere d'Argent (Slave River Delta, 15 miles from 
Fort Resolution) might easily refer to the Wolverine. He says: 
"For about two weeks it had been infesting my Marten road, 
tearing down the traps and devouring the baits. So, resolved 
to destroy it, I made a strong wooden trap. It climbed up 
this, entered from above, and ate the meat. A gun was next 
set, but with no better success. It cut the line and ran off 
with the bone that was tied to the end of it. As a dernier 
ressort I put a steel trap in the middle of the road, covered 
it carefully, and set a bait at some distance on each side. 
Into this it stumbled. From the size of its footprints my im- 
pression all along was that it was a small Wolverine that was 
annoying me, and I was surprised to find it to be a Fisher. It 
showed good fight, hissed at me much like an enraged cat, 
biting at the iron trap, and snapping at my legs. A blow on the 
nose turned it over, when I completed its death by compres- 
sing the heart with my foot until it ceased to beat. The skin, 
when stretched for drying, was fully as large as a middle-sized 
Otter and very strong, in this respect resembling that of the 

COON- In the Northern States and in southern Canada the ranges 

I IKE ,. . 

HAuiT of the Coon and Fisher overlap. In this common strip the 
Coon hunters quite often tree the Fisher, for the haunts and 

" Mam. ,\dir., 1884, p. 48. " Can. Nat., VI, 1S61, p. 24. 

Fisher 935 

behaviour of the two animals are so much aHke that the oldest 
hunters cannot tell from the race, or from the dogs, which 
animal has been started. 

Some interesting observations on this head are contributed 
by Bachman:'^ "Whilst residing [he says] in the northern 
part of our native State (New York), thirty-five years ago 
[about 1 8 14], the hunters were in the habit of bringing us two 
or three specimens of this Marten in the course of a winter. 
They obtained them by following their tracks in the snow, 
when the animals had been out in quest of food on the previous 
night, thus tracing them to the hollow trees in which they were 
concealed, which they chopped down. They informed us that 
as a tree was falling the Fisher would dart from the hollow, 
which was often 50 feet from the ground, and leap into the 
snow, when the dogs usually seized and killed them, although 
not without a hard struggle, as the Fisher was infinitely 
more dangerous to their hounds than either the Gray- or 

When caught in a steel trap, the Pekan has frequently 
been known to foot itself — that is, gnaw ofi^ the imprisoned limb 
— realizing that it is better to go through a long life halt and 
maimed than to depart at once on four feet for the Happy 
Hunting Grounds. Our Maine trapper says:'" "I once 
caught one with only two legs; he had been trapped twice 
before and lost a leg each time." 

Although it ranks among our most nocturnal animals, it is 
known to hunt occasionally by day. Bachman tells of a 
Fisher that he saw hunting a Gray-squirrel in broad daylight. 
Many other observers, including myself, have observed it 
travelling or hunting when the sun was up. 

Knowing its unaquatic reputation, I was surprised to swim- 
learn from George Linklater that he has often seen this animal 
swimming rivers and lakes; in fact, it does not hesitate to do so 
when across seems the easiest way round. 

" Q. N. A., i84g, Vol. I, p. 310. 

'" J. G. R., Bethel, Me., F. & S., June 24, i886. 

936 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The following, related to me by George Martin (of Paul 
Smith's, Adirondacks, N. Y.), illustrates at once the savageness 
of this animal and its power as a swimmer: 

In June, about 1870, Paul Smith was guiding a New York 

sportsman named S . One night they went out to 

jack Deer on Spitfire Lake, near Paul Smith's hotel. They 
noticed a wake in the water and, thinking it was made by a 
Deer, gave chase. It proved to be a large Blackcat or Fisher, 

swimming the lake, here a mile wide. S insisted that 

he could catch the animal alive. When they came near, he 
seized it and threw it into the boat. It attacked him savagely. 
He drew his hunting knife, but in his excitement he did not 
notice that the sheath was still on it. With this he fought the 
Blackcat, stabbing furiously, hitting the boat chiefly, and 
wondering at the toughness of the Cat. He was getting badly 
mauled, when Smith threw the beast out of the boat and killed 
it with his paddle. It was an old female. These animals are 
often known to swim rivers and lakes in the Adirondacks. 

SPEED, The track of the Fisher is much like that of the Marten, 

but proportionately larger. On the ground it travels, as do 
most of the Weasels, by the succession of square-tracked 
jumps. Bachman describes one running after a Gray-squirrel,' ' 
with every prospect of overtaking it, but also states that on the 
ground it appeared to have far less speed than the Fox. 

FOOD As already noted, the name Fisher is not happily bestowed, 

as the animal is probably less of a fisher than any other of our 
large Weasels. Its food list is most comprehensive and includes 
every kind of bird, beast, fish, frog, or reptile that it can secure 
as well as all manner of eggs and fruit — with meats and 
seeds for variety, its choice staples being Hares, Squirrels, 
Mice, frogs, and fish when it can find them. Of the last, it is 
extremely fond, and yet it is not known to go a-fishing. It is 
said to catch and feed on its little cousin, the Marten, which is 
evidence of most amazing agility. Audubon and Bachman 

"Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 311. 

Fig. 223— Tracks of a large Fisher. 

Bitterroot Mouotains, Idaho, Sept. 6, 1902. 



938 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

record" the killing of an Ontario specimen thus: "A Fisher 
was shot by a hunter named Marsh, near Port Hope, who said 
it was up a tree in close pursuit of a Marten, which he also 
brought with it." 

Ross testifies'" that the Fisher, like the Marten, lives 
principally on Mice, thus bringing it back to the standby of all 
carnivorous races. But Mice are not always attainable, and 
the valiant one may be subdued by grim hunger and descend 
yet lower in the accepted scale of diet. 
oMNivo- George Crawford (the Indian guide, Mittigwab) tells me 

that in August, 1896, at Lake Kippewa he saw a Fisher on the 
shore pulling down berries and eating them. They were, he 
said, small sweetish berries in bunches with round leaves. 
They are like huckleberries, but black, not found except well 
up north. Dr. Coues is authority for the statement that it will 
stay its hunger with beechnuts if nothing better is at hand.^° 
The favourite food of the Pekan appears to be the Rabbit 
or White-hare. What little migrating the species does, is, no 
doubt, irregular wandering in search of woods or regions where 
the Hare abounds. 

RABBIT- In pursuing these it may either stalk them cat-fashion or 

run them dog-fashion. Hardy says:^' "I have known one to 
catch a Rabbit by cutting across when the Rabbit circled. I 
once saw a Fisher which had driven a Rabbit into the Alleguash 
River. The Rabbit had swum to a gravel bed in the middle 
of the river, and sat crouched down, while the Fisher kept 
racing up and down on the shore, but did not take the water 
where the tracks ended, as a hound would have done." 

A case of the kind came under my notice at the Lake of the 
Woods, as already noted, and the following incident" gives a 
graphic picture of how it is done. 

"I once saw a Hare come out of the woods onto Lake 
Mollychunckemunk, running at great speed, and, immediately 

" Ibid., p. 313. " Can. Nat., iS6i, VI, p. 24. 

" Fur-bearinn Anim., 1877, p. 70. " See Note 4. 

» J. G. R., Bethel, Me., F. & S., January 14, 1886, p. 484. 


Fisher 939 

after, a Fisher on his track. They followed down the lake about 
a mile, when the Hare commenced to circle, quite large at first, 
and continually making the circle smaller, the Fisher always 
keeping inside the circle of the Hare, and so gaining quite a 
distance at every round; or rather, not having to run so fast to 
keep the Hare on his speed, the Fisher seemed to take it very 
leisurely, until the circle became so small as to end at a point, 
and the Fisher was there as soon as the Hare, and made short 
work of him. I had followed down the lake as fast as I could, 
in hopes of getting a shot, and so had an excellent chance to see 
the whole manoeuvre, but the Fisher saw me, dragged his 
prey ashore, and fled into the woods." 

The dietary of the Fisher expands on investigation, fox- 


Linklater and many others of my trapper friends say they have 
often heard of Foxes killed by this animal. It runs the Fox 
like a hound, following all day, till the latter gets tired and 
takes refuge in a hole, where it is easily dispatched. 

Half as heavy again as the Fox, and twice as much of a coon- 


fighter, is the common Raccoon, yet it stands in awe of the 
Fisher, and Dr. Coues says:" 

"It may not be generally known that the Pekan success- 
fully assaults an animal as large as the Raccoon; indeed, that 
the abundance of the latter in some districts depends in a 
measure upon the rarity of the former. The following letter, 
addressed to Professor Baird, in 1857, by Peter Reid, of 
Washington County, N. Y., sufficiently attests these facts: 

"'Raccoons are more numerous here now than they were 
at the first settlement of the country, or for some time subse- 
quent. Thirty years ago they were so seldom found that 
many boys fifteen or eighteen years old had scarcely seen one. 
Before the increase of their numbers I once witnessed a cir- 
cumstance that satisfied my mind on this score. Whilst 
hunting, early one winter, I found the carcass of a freshly killed 
sheep, and by the tracks around it in the light snow perceived 

" Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, pp. 73-4. 

940 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that a Fisher had surprised a Raccoon at a feast. A hard 
chase had ensued, the Raccoon tacking at full speed to avoid 
his pursuer, the Fisher outrunning and continually confront- 
ing his intended victim. I saw where at length the Fisher 
had made an assault, and where a bloody contest had 
evidently ensued. The Raccoon, worsted in the encounter, 
had again broken away, and the chase was resumed, but 
with diminished energy on the part of the Raccoon; the 
animal had been soon overtaken again, and a still more 
desperate encounter had taken place. The Coon had failed 
fast, and it had at length become merely a running fight, 
when both animals had entered a swamp where it was impossi- 
ble for me to trace them further, but I have no doubt the Coon 
was killed. I have witnessed similar engagements between the 
Mink and Muskrat, the Weasel and the House-rat, always 
ending in the death of the assaulted. The Fisher has been 
nearly extinct in these parts for about twenty-five years, and 
this, to my mind, accounts for the great increase in numbers of 
the Raccoon.'" 

LYNX- Lewis and Clark-^ ascribe a similar habit to the Fisher of 

Oregon; and we have already seen that this doughty desperado 
can sometimes fight off^ a number of dogs. Yet one step 
farther: The Indians say that a Fisher will kill a Lynx. 
Linklater, my principal informant on the subject, never saw 
a case, but was inclined to believe it, as he had had much 
experience with both animals and knew their relative merits. 

DEER- Now since the Pekan's prowess is demonstrated and its 

fighting fame proclaimed, we are prepared for the following 
from the pen of Manly Hardy;*^ 

"In spite of their small size and light weight. Fishers not 
only kill Deer, but can and do kill those of the largest size. 
When I first heard of this I doubted it, but know now that they 
often do it. A year ago last fall, my old friend, Louis Ketcham, 
was following the track of a large buck near the head of 

" And. & Bach., Quad. N. A., 1849, I, p. 313. " See Note 4. 


Fisher 941 

Nahmakanta Lake. In going along the side of a high granite 
ledge he saw where the buck had fallen, and there was blood 
on the snow. After stumbling along a few rods, it had fallen 
again, and there was more blood. This was repeated several 
times, and then he saw where the buck had struck a Fisher 
which had been clinging to its neck and biting it, and had 
knocked it several feet to one side. The Fisher was evidently 
badly hurt, as Louis said it dragged its hind-legs, making a 
track in the snow like an Otter, and had crawled into a crack 
in the ledge. On going back he found that the Fisher had 
been on top of the ledge, where the Deer path led along close 
to it, and had sprung down upon the Deer and was trying to 
bite the jugular vein. I have known of instances where they 
have been successful in doing this." 

The list of immunes keeps shrinking. There are now but 
few of the wild things left that, by reason of their size and 
strength or other gifts, can afford to regard with indifference the 
Blackcat crawling near. There are indeed two creatures that 
through ages of security have been led to think themselves 
exceptions to the rules — the Skunk and the Porcupine; but 
the Fisher itself is an exception to all rules. 

As far back as 1829, Richardson wrote-' of the Pekan: porcu- 
"Its favourite food is the Canada Porcupine, which it kills killer 
by biting on the belly." Every northern naturalist since has 
borne similar testimony. Hardy says:" 

"Their food consists of Porcupines largely. * * * It 
seems to swallow the quills of Porcupines without any injury. 
I have examined many hundreds of Fisher skins where there 
were quills lying flat against the skin, usually either on the 
back of neck or lower part of the back, but I never saw any 
signs of their causing any sores or suppuration, as they do in 
a dog. While I had skins of Fox, Raccoon, and Wildcats, 
which have been picked up dead, with their necks just filled 
with Porcupine quills, which evidently had caused their death, 
I have never seen a quill sticking in a Fisher; and the same is 

*■ F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 53. " See Note 4- 

942 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

true of Bears, which also eat a great many Porcupines. In 
eating Porcupines they do just as Bears do, turn them over on 
their backs and eat out most of the meat, leaving the skin 
nearly entire." 

Abundant corroboration is found in "Mammals of the 
Adirondacks."-* "I was informed both by an agent of 
the Hudson's Bay Company and by the trappers themselves 
[says Merriam] that Porcupines constitute a large and im- 
portant element in the food supply of the Pekan. Nap. A. 
Comeau, of Godbout, who secured for me a large and hand- 
some male of this species, tells me that its intestine contained 
hundreds of Porcupine quills, arranged in clusters, like so many 
packages of needles, throughout its length. In no case had a 
single quill penetrated the mucous lining of the intestine, but 
they were apparently passing along its interior as smoothly 
and surely as if within a tube of glass or metal. 

"Mr. Comeau could not discover a quill in any of the 
abdominal viscera, or anywhere in the abdominal cavity, ex- 
cepting as above stated. A great many, however, were found 
imbedded in the muscles of the head, chest, and back and legs, 
and it was remarked that their presence gave rise to no irrita- 
tion, no products of inflammation being discovered in their 
vicinity. In examining the partially cleaned skeleton of this 
specimen I still find some of the quills in the deep muscles and 
ligaments about the joints. A knee, in particular, shows several 
in its immediate neighbourhood. One is deeply imbedded in 
the dense ligament alongside the patella; three lie parallel to 
and close against the tibia, and two can be seen between it and 
the fibula. 

"It is probable that all of these quills entered the body of 
the animal while engaged in killing and devouring the Porcu- 
pine, for those swallowed seemed to have caused no trouble 
after having fairly entered the alimentary canal. Therefore, 
there remains no question whatever that the Fisher feeds upon 
the Porcupine, but I do not agree with Corporal Warfield in 
the belief that the quills often prove fatal to it." 

» P. 49- 

Fisher 943 

George Linklater, for many years a chief trader for the 
Hudson's Bay Company at many different posts, has handled 
hundreds of Fisher pehs, but never saw one without some 
Porcupine quills in it. The skin is discounted in proportion to 
the quill damage it shows. He never saw but one Fisher that 
was seemingly hurt by a Porcupine. He found this — an old 
one — eating at a Deer carcass. It could scarcely crawl and 
was full of quills. He thinks it would have died in a few days. 
This was in December. Another man of the northern woods, 
Chief Mittigwab, tells me that he never saw a Fisher skin with- 
out many Porcupine quills in it, but they do no harm, never 
fester, and always work out. He has seen them dropping out 
of Fishers' pelts, but never saw them in their flesh, the back is 
usually full. Then, adding a final and truly Indian touch, he 
said: "Fisher's liver given to a dog will force all the quills out 
of him." 

The storage habit is well developed in this species. When stor 
it kills an animal, it eats as much as it needs and then buries habit 
the rest. If you place a trap at the cache, you are sure to get 
your Fisher next day. This is well known among the Ottawa 
trappers and a usual method of catching the Pekan. 

It is not generally believed to store food for longer than one 
or two days, but MacFarlane quotes^" Colin Thompson as 
authority to show that for winter consumption the Fishers pro- 
vide quantities of "hips" in advance. 

The pelt of this fur-bearer is cased. The market quota- fur 
tions at Winnipeg for March, 1904, were: Prime, ^4 to ^9. 

During the eighty-five years, 1821 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 377,338 skins of this species, 
an average of 4,439 for each year. The lowest was 974 in 1829; 
the highest, 8,917, in 1868. The average for the ten years, 
1895 to 1905, was 3,816. 

Poland's lists show that during the seventy-one years, 1821 
to 1891 inclusive, 305,570 skins were taken by the other Ameri- 

"' Mam. N. W. Ter, Proc. U. S. N. M., 1905, p. 709. 

944 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

can companies, an average of 4,224 each year. So that the 
average annual catch of Fishers for fur is about 8,600. 

At Lampson's annual fur sales, London, March, 1906, 
2,211 Fisher skins were sold. (The Hudson's Bay Company 
sold 3,010 the same month.) The highest price realized at 
Lampson's was 52 shillings ($12.48) each for 24 first-class black 
skins. But 30 to 40 shillings ($7.20 to ;^9.6o) were ruling 
prices for first-class paler skins; second-class brought about 20 
shillings ($4.80), and third-class 15 shillings ($3.60). 

Hardy says'" he once sold a few extra fine dark skins in 
London for 100 shillings ($24), while some of the coarsest 
and palest prime skins in the same lot did not bring over 16 to 
20 shillings ($3.84 to ;$4.8o). 

™ See Note 4. 


Wolverine, Glutton, Carcajou, Skunkbear or 

Gulo luscus (Linnaeus). 

(L. Gulo, from gula, the throat, given by Storr on account of its supposed gluttony ; 
L. luscus, half-blind.) 

Ursus luscus Linn., 1766, Syst. Nat., XII ed., I, p. 71. 
Gulo luscus Sabine, 1823, Franklin Nar. Journ. Polar Sea, 
p. 650. 

Type Locality. — Hudson Bay. 

French Canadian, le Carcajou. 
Cree, Kin-kwa-har-gay'-o, or, according to Richard- 
son,' Okee-coo-haw-gew. 
OjiB. & Saut., Kween-go-ar'-gay. 
Chipewyan, Nog-gy'-ay. 
Yankton Sioux, Skay-cha Tung-ka. 

The original individual of the Hudson Bay Wolverine, to 
which Linnaeus gave the name luscus, was said to have had 
but one eye; possibly, however, it was given on account of its 
reputation for bad eyesight. 

The name 'Carcajou' is probably a French corruption of 
the Canadian Indian name. Richardson believed that both 
'Carcajou' and 'Quickehatch' were derived from the Algon- 
quin or Cree name, 'Okee-coo-haw-gew' or ' Okee-coo-haw- 
gees.' The name 'Skunkbear' is commonly used in the 
Rocky Mountains because in size, colour, and shape the 
Wolverine suggests a cross between a Skunk and a Black-bear. 

The genus Gulo (Storr, 1780) comprises the largest of the 
Weasel Family and belongs to the Mustelinae or true Weasel 

' F. B. A., 1829, I, pp. 42-3. 


946 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

subfamily, characterized by having partly retractile claws 
suited, not for digging, but for climbing. They are stout, 
bear-like animals with bushy tails, hairy soles, short ears, and 
4 extra premolars. The teeth are: 

T 3-3 i~i 4-4 I i-i O 
Inc. ^^-^; can. ; prem. ; mol. = 38 

3-3 I -I 4-4 2-2 

In addition to these characters the Wolverine has: 
SIZE Length, about 36 inches (915 mm.); tail, 6 inches (152 

mm.); hind-foot, 7 inches (178 mm.); height at shoulder, 12 
inches (305 mm.). 
WEIGHT George Cartwright gave' the weight of a specimen as 26 

COLOUR General colour a deep blackish-brown, paler and grayer 

on crown and cheeks; a band of pale chestnut begins on each 
shoulder and passes backwards along the sides to meet its 
fellow on the tail; these become nearly white on the rump in 
some specimens; the throat and chest are more or less spotted 
with yellowish-white, which sometimes forms a large irregular 
patch; claws, whitish horn-colour. 
Sexes alike. 

Quite recently (1903 and 1905) D. G. Elliot has described 
two new forms of Wolverine, as follows: 

luteus Elliot, is distinguished by the buff colour of 

its upper parts. California. 
hylceus Elliot, is very dark in colour, without buff or 

gray; has auditory bullae very large. Alaska. 


RANGE Wolverines are found in boreal Asia, Europe, and 

America. In the last the southern limits are shown on the 

'Sixteen Years in Labrador, 1792, Vol. II, p. 407. 


Culo luscus (Linn) 

Founded on records by J. Richardson. Geo. Cartwright, S. F. Baird, E. Coues, C. Hart Merriam, R. MacFarlane, E. W. Nelson, H. C. 
Yarrow, E. R. VVarrcn, D. G. Elliot. S. N. Rhoads. el al. 

The main outlines are fairly correct for the primitive range, but further investigations will include most of the Arctic Islands. 


948 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

It is unknown in south-western Manitoba and very scarce 
in the north-eastern half of the Province. I have heard of it 
about Lake Winnipeg, am told that a few are found on Duck 
Mountain, and in 1885 William R. Hine had a specimen sent 
him from Brokenhead River. He considers the Wolverine 
exceedingly rare in Manitoba. The only one he ever saw 
alive in the Province was kept at the Albion Hotel by Dan 
MacDonald. It came from Lake Winnipeg. 

At no time was it plentiful here, as is shown by the Red 
River fur returns of Alexander Henry.' In 1 800-1 and the 
years following he got 5, 4, 10, 8, 17, 45, 8, 3. 

The species reaches its chief abundance in the Barren 
Grounds, just north of the limit of trees, but it is plentiful also 
in the Peace River Valley. From this region William Clark, 
of Winnipeg, informs me that the Hudson's Bay Company 
received 1,200 Wolverine skins in 1872 and 1,300 in 1882. 
This, no doubt, includes all skins sent through the Peace River 
Department from regions more remote. It is evidently be- 
coming scarce in the southern parts of its range. 

INDIVID- Audubon and Bachman tracked a Wolverine for about 

RANGE 5 miles over the snow-clad hills of northern New York.* In 
Labrador, Cartwright saw one which carried a heavy trap for 
6 miles. ^ MacFarlane writes me of another which followed his 
trail for 12 or 15 miles. The trappers generally say it will 
follow them along a line of 40 or 50 miles to steal their trap 
baits. Hutchins says° even 60 miles. 

The most remarkable case of all, perhaps, is that recorded 
by Low in his Labrador experiences.' 

" In the fall of 1893, a Wolverine carried away a trap from 
the North-west River, and [still bearing the trap] was taken a 
few days later in another trap on the Hamilton River, some 
30 miles away from the place where it had picked up the first 

' Journal, 1897, pp. 184, 198, 221, 245, 259, 281, 422, 440. 

* Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 207. 
' Op. cit., see Note 2. 

• F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 43. 

' Labrador Pcnin., Geol. Surv. Can., 1896, App. I, p. 315 L. 

Wolverine 949 

trap." All of this evidence, while not conclusive, has weight, 
and hunters agree that the Wolverine is a wide-ranger, cover- 
ing a region of at least 50 miles across in the winter. In the 
summer it need not go so far for food and must stay in the 
neighbourhood of its family. 

Mating takes place about the middle or end of March, mating 
Miles Spencer is of the opinion that the Wolverine pairs, and 
that the male assists in rearing the young.* Abe Leeds, my 
Idaho guide, tells me that he has seen a pair of Wolverines 
roaming together in autumn among the mountains of Jackson's 
Hole, so it is possible that the species pairs for life, though the 
analogy of other Weasels is against this conclusion. 

The den of one which they secured in Rensselaer County, 
N. Y., is described by Audubon and Bachman, and from 
their account we may form an idea of the nursery.' 

"There was a large nest of dried leaves in the cavern, nesting 
which had evidently been a place of resort for the Wolverine 
* * * during the whole winter, as its tracks from every 
direction led to the spot. It had laid up no winter store, and 
evidently depended on its nightly excursion for a supply of 
food. It had, however, fared well, for it was very fat." 

The site chosen for the young ones' home is almost any 
sheltered hollow in the ground or under rocks. Sometimes 
the old one digs it out, but oftentimes uses any ready-made 
convenient hole it can find. 

Gestation is supposed to last about 60 days; analogy gesta- 
would make it about 100; but there is no conclusive evidence. 
Indians and trappers report the mating season and the bearing 
season from two to three months apart. Doubtless seasons 
vary with latitude. Most of the Hudson's Bay Company 
traders agree that the young are born in June, but in the Barren 
Grounds, that is, the Arctic region, they may not come till July. 

' Low Expl. James Bay, 1888, Geol. Surv. Can., Part J, App. Ill, p. 77 J. 
" Quad. N. A., 1849, !> P- ^og. 

950 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

As will be seen later, I have evidence of the Siberian Wolverine, 
supposed to be identical with ours, producing young in April. 

The little ones number 2 or 3, rarely 4, but MacFarlane 
says sometimes as high as 5. The very low numbers are usu- 
ally offspring of a very young or a very old mother. 

In early life they have been little observed, because the 
mosquitoes are such an insufferable torment in their haunts 
during summer that no man goes there except under dire 
compulsion. The half-breeds and Indians of the far North- 
west have often assured me that the young are white at birth, 
but they could not produce the skin of one. I was glad, there- 
fore, to find in the American Museum of Natural History 2 
young ones taken by N. C. Buxton in north-eastern Siberia, on 
May 7, 1 901, which, judging from their size, must have been 
three or four weeks old. They are male and female. 

The male, as measured in the dry skin, is: Length, 16J 
inches (419 mm.); tail, about 3^ inches (82 mm.); hind-foot, 
2J inches (53 mm.). 

It is clad in a dense wool which is yellowish-white tinged 
with brownish-gray, on crown, legs, back, under parts, and tail; 
the face bears a mask of brown. Thus it has all the adult 
marking expressed in very faint colours. 

The female is precisely similar. 

On one point all my Indian friends and all the books are 
agreed — that it is as safe to enter the den of a mother Bear as 
to face a Wolverine when she is with her young. She is a 
tigress of ferocity, absolutely fearless, and so strong and quick 
that a man, even armed with a gun, is taking risks if he 
come near. The young are suckled for eight or nine weeks 
and fed at home by their mother till quite late in summer. 
D. T. Hanbury says'" that August 13, on the Dease River, near 
Great Bear Lake, he "shot a female Wolverine as she was 
swimming across the river. She carried a Ground-squirrel in 
her mouth, which she evidently had intended for her family." 

" Northland of Canada, 1904, p. 232. 

Wolverine 951 

"In October, when the rivers set fast, the Wolverines re- 
appear in families, the young still following their dam, though 
now not much her inferior in size. They are full grown when 
about a year old."" (Lockhart.) But one brood is produced 
in a year. 

The Wolverine has been made the subject of many marvel- 
lous stories. We are told, for example, that it habitually lies 
in wait up some tree for Deer to pass; it drops on them and 
rides them to death, then devours the carcass at one enormous 
meal. As a matter of fact, a Wolverine rarely climbs, it seldom 
attacks a full-grown Deer, and its appetite is no more than that 
of any other flesh-eater of its size. Its usual prey is small 
mammals and carrion. It is notorious for its pertinacious perse- 
cutions of the trapper. Every trapper in the fur countries can 
relate personal experiences of the Wolverine, and Richardson 
also bears testimony to its cunning and its propensity for 

"The Wolverine'^ [he says] is extremely wary and shows 
extraordinary sagacity and perseverance in accomplishing its 
ends. The Indians believe that it is inspired with the spirit 
of mischief, and endowed with preternatural powers. Though 
more destructive to their hoards of provisions than the Wolf 
or even the Bear, and able to penetrate fences that resist their 
powerful efi^orts, it is only about thirty inches long, a foot high 
at the shoulder, and one foot six inches at the rump, but it is 
very compactly made. With teeth that do not seem to be 
peculiarly fitted for cutting wood, it will sever a log equal to 
a man's thigh in thickness, by constant gnawing. In selecting 
the spot it intends to breach, it shows as much skill as the 
Beaver, generally contriving to cut a log near one end, so that 
it may fall down into some void space, and thus open an en- 
trance into the hoard. The animal works so hard in carrying 
on this operation that it causes its mouth to bleed, as the ends 
of the logs and the snow often testify. Once admitted into the 

" Coues, Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, p. 52. 
" Arc. Search Exp., 1851, Vol. II, pp. 84-6. 

952 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

hoard, it has to gnaw the pieces of meat asunder, as they are 
generally frozen together, and then it proceeds to drag them 
out one by one, and to bury them in the snow, each in a separate 
place. As it travels backwards and forwards over the meat, it 
smears it with a peculiarly fetid glandular secretion, after 
which no other animal will touch it. In this way one of these 
beasts will spoil a large cache in an hour or two and wholly 
empty it in a few nights. The pieces which are carried off are 
so carefully concealed in the snow, and the Wolverine makes so 
many tracks in the neighbourhood, that it is difficult to trace 
out the deposits, and they are seldom found." 

"In which case," as Thomas Hutchins says,'' "they 
furnish a regale to the hungry Fox, whose sagacious nostrils 
guide him unerringly to the spot. Two or three Foxes are 
often seen following the Wolverine for this purpose." All 
Northern traders grow eloquent on the subject of this animal's 
diabolic pertinacity and destructiveness. 

"The winter I passed at Fort Simpson [writes Lockhart]'* 
I had a line of Marten and Fox traps, and Lynx snares, extend- 
ing as far as Lac de Brochet. Visiting them on one occasion, 
I found a Lynx alive in one of my snares, and being indisposed 
to carry it so far home, determined to kill and skin it before it 
should freeze. But how to cache the skin till my return ? 
This was a serious question, for Carcajou tracks were numer- 
ous. Placing the carcass as a decoy in a clump of willows at 
one side of the path, I went some distance on the opposite side, 
dug a hole with my snowshoe about three feet deep in the snow, 
packed the skin in the smallest possible compass, and put it in 
the bottom of the hole, which I filled up again very carefully, 
packing the snow down hard, and then strewing loose snow 
over the surface till the spot looked as though it had never 
been disturbed. I also strewed blood and entrails in the path 
and around the willows. Returning next morning, I found 
that the carcass was gone, as I had expected it would be, but 
that the place where the skin was cached was apparently un- 
disturbed. 'Ah! you rascal,' said I, addressing aloud the 

" F. B. A., 1829, Vol. I, p. 43. " Coues, Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, pp. 52-5. 

Wolverine 953 

absent Carcajou, ' I have outwitted you for once.' I lighted my 
pipe, and proceeded leisurely to dig up the skin to place in my 
muskimoot. I went clear down to the ground on this side and 
on that, but no Lynx skin was there. The Carcajou had been 
before me and had carried it off along with the carcase; but he 
had taken the pains to fill up the hole again and make every 
thing as smooth as before. 

"At Peel's River, on one occasion, a very old Carcajou 
discovered my Marten road, on which I had nearly a hundred 
and fifty traps. I was in the habit of visiting the line about 
once a fortnight; but the beast fell into the way of coming 
oftener than I did, to my great annoyance and vexation. I 
determined to put a stop to this thieving and his life together, 
cost what it might. So I made six strong traps at as many 
different points, and also set three steel traps. For three 
weeks I tried my best to catch the beast without success; and 
my worst enemy would allow that I am no green hand in these 
matters. The animal carefully avoided the traps set for his 
own benefit, and seemed to be taking more delight than ever in 
demolishing my Marten traps and eating the Martens, scatter- 
ing the poles in every direction, and caching what baits or 
Martens he did not devour on the spot. As we had no poison 
in those days, I next set a gun on the bank of a little lake. 
The gun was concealed in some low bushes, but the bait was 
so placed that the Carcajou must see it on his way up the bank. 
I blockaded my path to the gun with a small pine tree which 
completely hid it. On my first visit afterwards I found the 
beast had gone up to the bait and smelled it, but had left it 
untouched. He had next pulled up the pine tree that blocked 
the path, and gone around the gun and cut the line which 
connected the bait with the trigger, just behind the muzzle. 
Then he had gone back and pulled the bait away, and carried 
it out on the lake, where he lay down and devoured it at his 
leisure. There I found my string. I could scarcely believe 
that all this had been done designedly, for it seemed that facul- 
ties fully on a par with human reason would be required for 
such an exploit, if done intentionally. I therefore rearranged 

954 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

things, tying the string where it had been bitten. But the 
result was exactly the same for three successive occasions, as I 
could plainly see by the footprints; and, what is most singular 
of all, each time the brute was careful to cut the line a little 
back of where it had been tied before, as if actually reasoning 
with himself that even the knots might be some new device of 
mine, and therefore a source of hidden danger he would pru- 
dently avoid. I came to the conclusion that that Carcajou 
ought to live, as he must be something at least human, if not 
worse. I gave it up and abandoned the road for a period. 

"On another occasion a Carcajou amused himself, much 
as usual, by taking my line from one end to the other and de- 
molishing my traps as fast as I could set them. I put a large 
steel trap in the middle of a path that branched off among some 
willows, spreading no bait, but risking the chance that the 
animal would 'put his foot in it' on his way to break a trap at 
the end of the path. On my next visit I found that the trap 
was gone, but I noticed the blood and entrails of a Hare that 
had evidently been caught in the trap and devoured by the 
Carcajou on the spot. Examining his footprints, I was satis- 
fied that he had not been caught, and I took up his trail. 
Proceeding about a mile through the woods, I came to a small 
lake, on the banks of which I recognized traces of the trap, 
which the beast had laid down in order to go a few steps to one 
side to make water on a stump. He had then returned and 
picked up the trap, which he had carried across the lake, with 
many a twist and turn on the hard crust of snow to mislead his 
expected pursuer, and then again entered the woods. I fol- 
lowed for about half a mile farther and then came to a large 
hole dug in the snow. This place, however, seemed not to have 
suited him, for there was nothing there. A few yards farther 
on, however, I found a neatly built mound of snow on which 
the animal had made water and left his dirt; this I knew was his 
cache. Using one of my snowshoes for a spade, I dug into the 
hillock and down to the ground, the snow being about four feet 
deep; and there I found my trap, with the toes of a Rabbit still 
in the jaws. Could it have been the animal's instinctive im- 

Wolverine 955 

pulse to hide prey that made him carry my trap so far merely 
for the morsel of meat still held in it ? Or did his cunning 
nature prompt him to hide the trap for fear that on some future 
unlucky occasion he might put his own toes in it and share the 
Rabbit's fate?" 

To this bewildering evidence of sagacity Dr. Coues 
adds:'^ "This propensity of the Wolverine to carry off traps 
receives confirmation from other sources. In Captain Cart- 
wright's Journal (II, 407), a similar instance is recorded in 
the following terms: 'In coming to the foot of Table Hill 
I crossed the track of a Wolvering with one of Mr. Calling- 
ham's traps on his foot; the Foxes had followed his bleeding 
track. As this beast went through the thick of the woods, 
under the north side of the hill, where the snow was so deep 
and light that it was with the greatest difficulty I could follow 
him even on Indian rackets, I was quite puzzled to know how 
he had contrived to prevent the trap from catching hold of the 
branches of trees or sinking in the snow. But on coming up 
with him I discovered how he had managed. For, after making 
an attempt to fly at me, he took the trap in his mouth and ran 
upon three legs. These creatures are surprisingly strong in 
proportion to their size; this one weighed only 26 pounds and 
the trap 8; yet, including all the turns he had taken, he carried 
it 6 miles.'" 

"The hunter [says Lockhart]'" may safely leave an animal 
he has killed, for one night, but never for a second time, without 
placing it in a strong cache of logs. The first night the Wol- 
verine is pretty sure to visit the place, but will touch nothing. 
The next night he is certain to return, and, if he can possibly 
get at the meat, he will gorge himself, and then make 
away with the rest, which he cunningly hides, piece by piece, 
under the snow, in different directions. At every cache he 
makes he voids his urine or drops his dirt, probably to prevent 
Foxes, Martens, or other animals from smelling the hidden 
meat and digging it up. Caches must be made of green wood, 
and be exceedingly strong, or the animal will certainly break 

"■Op. cit., p. 55. "O/-. cil., pp. 50-1. 

956 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

into them. He has been known to gnaw through a log nearly 
a foot in diameter and also to dig a hole several feet deep 
in frozen ground, to gain access to the coveted supply. 
Should he succeed in gaining entrance for himself and yet be 
unable to displace the logs sufficiently to permit of removal of 
the meat, the brute will make water and dirt all over it, render- 
ing it wholly unfit to be used; even a dog will then scarcely 
touch it. 

"To the trapper the Wolverines are equally annoying. 
When they have discovered a line of Marten traps, they will 
never abandon the road, and must be killed before the trapping 
can be successfully carried on. Beginning at one end, they 
proceed from trap to trap along the whole line, pulling them 
successively to pieces, and taking out the baits from behind. 
When they can eat no more, they continue to steal the baits 
and cache them. If hungry, they may devour two or three 
of the Martens they find captured, the remainder being car- 
ried ofif and hidden in the snow at a considerable distance. 
The work of demolition goes on as fast as the traps can be 

"The propensity to steal and hide things [says Coues]" 
is one of the strongest traits of the Wolverine. To such an 
extent is it developed that the animal will often secrete articles 
of no possible use to itself. Besides the wanton destruction of 
Marten traps, it will carry ofi^ the sticks and hide them at a 
distance, apparently in sheer malice. Mr. Ross, in the article 
above quoted, has given an amusing instance of the extreme 
of this propensity: 'The desire for accumulating property 
seems so deeply implanted in this animal that, like tame ravens, 
it does not appear to care much what it steals, so that it can 
exercise its favourite propensity to commit mischief. An 
instance occurred within my own knowledge in which a hunter 
and his family, having left their lodge unguarded during their 
absence, on their return found it completely gutted — the walls 
were there but nothing else. Blankets, guns, kettles, axes, 
cans, knives, and all the other paraphernalia of a trapper's tent 

" Op. cit., p. 51. 

Wolverine 957 

had vanished, and the tracks left by the beast showed who had 
been the thief. The family set to work and, by carefully 
following up all his paths, recovered, with some trifling 
exceptions, the whole of the property.'" 

How are we to explain this conduct ? In ancient days or 
barbarous countries it would be said that the creature was 
possessed of a devil and no further explanation considered 
necessary. This is not quite satisfactory to-day. The Wolver- 
ine undoubtedly follows the trapper because it is hungry and 
sees a chance of securing a bellyful. Having found food, it 
takes possession of it in a manner of wide usage. As already 
noted, small boys and Eskimaux take possession by spitting on 
the object. Squirrels by licking it. Foxes by urinating on it, 
and Badgers and several Weasels, including the Wolverine, by 
anointing it with the oil of their anal glands. This is a potent 
method that carries strong conviction among most creatures 
that have retained unimpaired the sense of smell. If the 
Wolverine be not hungry, its provident instinct prompts it to 
put the possible food away for some day of worse luck, and, 
acting on the principle 'better safe than sorry,' it brands again 
in detail with its execrable odour the treasure trove; in so 
doing, other things, sticks, pots, etc., with an interesting odour 
of human grease, are accidentally touched with the oil, the 
convincing holy oil of the anal glands, and so, by a process not 
without parallel in other worlds, they are converted to its use 
and receive the honour of a cache into themselves. It is not 
to be supposed that any part of the procedure is due to malice. 

The inordinate sagacity of the species is, as with Wolves, 
largely fear born of sad experience, stimulated by any suggestion 
of human touch and assisted by nostrils of marvellous acuteness 

Aside from various tricks to decoy it into a trap, there are tocir- 
at least four ways of solving the Wolverine problem. The ve.\t 
first is given by Richardson, in his 1851 Journey," thus: " Rae, 
however, made a safe cellar by cutting a hole in the ice, cover- 

" Vol. II, p. 86. 

958 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ing it thickly with snow, and then pouring water over all until 
the frost had rendered the whole a solid mass." 

The second method is given by Professor H. Y. Hind in 
his "Exploration of Labrador":'" 

"As an illustration of the ingenuity of Indians in preserv- 
ing their packs of fur or provisions during the winter months 
where the Wolverine abounds, Mr. Anderson, chief factor of 
Mingan, told me that when he was in charge of the Post of 
Neepigon, north of Lake Superior, an Indian came to him to 
get some provision, but did not bring his furs. 

"'Where did you leave your furs?' he enquired. 

"'Made a cache of them,' said the Indian. 

"'But, man, the Carcajou will get them; there are plenty 
in your hunting grounds,' replied Mr. Anderson. 

'"No, no; no fear; I'll frighten the Carcajou, I think, if 
he tries to get my pack.' 

"'How did you make the cache?' 

"'I wrapped the furs in birch-bark, and tied the bundle at 
the end of a large branch twice as high as myself from the 

"'Well, that will not keep the Carcajou away. He will 
climb the tree and jump at the pack and bring it down with 

"'No; I think not,' said the Indian, with a smile. *I 
fastened two of my little dog-sleigh bells to the pack with a bit 
of sinew. When the Carcajou comes crawling down the branch 
to get at the pack, he will ring the little bells, and then you 
know how quick he'll jump back again and run off. I have 
tried this trick before, and it never failed me. No fear; the 
Carcajou will not get my furs." 

Somewhat on similar lines is an effectual method that I 
learnt from J. W. Tyrrell and put in practice during my 
journey in the far north. The cache is made weather-proof 
and rain-proof, then left high in a tree, to whose trunk a final 
finish is given in the form of a complete necklace of cod 

'» 1863, Vol. I, p. 50. 

Wolverine 959 

hooks, points downward. Hitherto this has proved very 

The fourth and only infalUble method is by the use of 
strychnine. There is, however, a wide-spread feehng against 
this. The Indians beheve it to be an unholy practice that will 
surely draw down the wrath of the Great Spirit. The trappers 
say that it ruins the fur of the animal poisoned and tends to ruin 
all the trapping, as one strychnine bait may claim many vic- 
tims. Nevertheless, the natives use poison for Wolverines, 
secretly, but whenever they can get it — just as they also lose no 
chance of getting certain other contraband poisons for their 
personal use. 

When Linnaeus called this animal 'luscus' or 'half- 
blind,' he either knew the creature very well or stumbled on a 
truth, for the Wolverine has notoriously bad eyesight. 

Coues thus comments :^" " It is said that if one only stands 
still, even in full view of an approaching Carcajou, he will 
come within 50 or 60 yards, provided he be to windward, before 
he takes the alarm. Even then, if he be not warned by sense 
of smell, he seems in doubt and will gaze earnestly several 
times before he finally concludes to take himself off. 

"On these and similar occasions he has a singular habit, 
one not shared, so far as I am aware, by any other beast what- 
ever. He sits on his haunches and shades his eyes with one of 
his fore-paws, just as a human being would do in scrutinizing 

a dim or distant object. 


"Lockhart writes that he has been twice eye-witness of this 
curious habit of the Wolverine. Once, as he was drifting down 
stream in a small canoe, he came within a short distance of one 
of the animals on the bank; it stopped on perceiving him, 
squatted on its haunches, and peered earnestly at the advan- 
cing boat, holding one fore-paw over its eyes in the manner de- 
scribed. Not seeming to take alarm, it proceeded on a few 
paces, and then stopped to repeat the performance, when 

^ Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, p. 56. 

960 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Lockhart, now sufficiently near, fired and killed the beast. 
On another occasion, when the same gentleman was crossing 
the Rocky Mountains, a Wolverine, which had become alarmed 
and was making off, stopped frequently and put up his paw in 
the same manner in order to see more clearly the nature of 
that which had disturbed him." 

Bachman remarks-' of a captive European Wolverine 
that he observed in Denmark: "He was somewhat averse 
to the light of the sun, keeping his eyes half closed when 
exposed to the rays." All evidence shows that the Wolverine 
of the north is troubled with eyes that suffer in a dazzling 

Snow-blindness is a wide-spread complaint among the 
human dwellers of these white wastes in spite of their various 
contrivances to prevent it. I have often wondered how the 
animals escape, especially those that travel by day. Proof that 
they do not always get off easily is found in the following by 
Mrs. Mary Austin. In describing the terrors of a great snow 
on the High Sierra, she adds:" "Even the Deer make slow 
going in the deep, fresh snow, and once we found a Wolverine 
going blind and feebly in the white glare." 

In many early accounts and pictures the Wolverine is 
presented as a plantigrade animal, that is, one that sets the 
whole foot on the ground, in bear-fashion. Numerous ob- 
servations on living specimens, as well as a study of its trail, 
show that it treads on the toes only, is truly digitigrade, as are 
most of the Weasel Family. Though bear-like in gait and 
clumsy in build, this animal is neither slow nor sluggish. A 
captive specimen which I observed galloped nearly all day up 
and down its cage, its head low, its back high arched, its 
movements lumbering but vigorous, and seemingly tireless. 

STRENGTH Hcame, on his famous journey, had much experience with 

Wolverines, and writes thus:^' "As a proof of their amazing 

" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 207. 

" Land of Little Rain, 1904, p. 257. ^ Journey, 1795, p. 373. 

Wolverine 961 

strength, there was one at Churchill some years since, that over- 
set the greatest part of a pile of wood (containing a whole win- 
ter's firing, that measured upwards of seventy yards round) to get 
at some provisions that had been hid there by the Company's 
servants, when going to the Factory to spend the Christmas 
holidays. The fact was, this animal had been lurking about 
in the neighbourhood of their tent (which was about eight miles 
from the Factory) for some weeks, and had committed many 
depredations on the game caught in their traps and snares, as 
well as eaten many Foxes that were killed by guns set for that 
purpose; but the Wolverine was too cunning to take either 
trap or gun himself. The people, knowing the mischievous 
disposition of those animals, took (as they thought) the most 
effectual method to secure the remains of their provisions, 
which they did not choose to carry home, and accordingly tied 
it up in bundles and placed it on the top of the wood-pile 
(about two miles from their tent), little thinking the Wolverine 
would find it out; but, to their great surprise, when they re- 
turned to their tent after the holidays, they found the pile of 
wood in the state already mentioned, though some of the trees 
that composed it were as much as two men could carry. The 
only reason the people could give for the animal doing so much 
mischief was that, in his attempting to carry off the booty, 
some of the small parcels of provisions had fallen down into 
the heart of the pile, and, sooner than lose half his prize, he 
pursued the above method till he had accomplished his ends. 
The bags of flour, oatmeal, and peas, though of no use to him, 
he tore all to pieces and scattered the contents about on the 
snow; but every bit of animal food, consisting of beef, pork, 
bacon, venison, salt geese, partridges, etc., to a considerable 
amount, he carried away." 

When fighting or under intense excitement it emits a fi^^^T 
strong musky odour. This, as in all Weasels, is produced by 
the anal glands. It is very strong in the present species and is 
another justification of the name Skunk-bear. Although it 
usually avoids man, the hunters generally testify that it can on 


962 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

occasion face him very bravely, and rarely flies from any foe 
on four legs. 

Such is the opinion by Hearne, who, with convincing 
reserve, says:"* 

"With respect to the fierceness of this animal which some 
assert, I can say little, but I know them to be beasts of great 
courage and resolution, for I once saw one of them take pos- 
session of a Deer that an Indian had killed, and, though the 
Indian advanced within twenty yards, he would not relinquish 
his claim to it, but sufi^ered himself to be shot standing on the 
Deer. I once saw a similar instance of a Lynx, or Wild-cat, 
which also sufi"ered itself to be killed before it would relinquish 
the prize. The Wolverines have also frequently been seen to 
take a Deer from a Wolf before the latter had time to begin his 
repast after killing it. Indeed, their amazing strength, and the 
length and sharpness of their claws, render them capable of 
making a strong resistance against any other animal in those 
parts, the Bear not excepted." 

One of my mountaineer friends, Abe Leeds, of Idaho, 
gives me a stirring account of a meeting between two Wolver- 
ines and a Cinnamon Bear, over a dead Elk. All three had 
been feeding there for some days. But the Bear came once 
when both Wolverines were in possession. Leeds was waiting 
for the Bear, but the Wolverines attacked the new guest with 
great fury, and, although the battle was little more than 
snarling and heavy growling, extraordinarily so for an animal 
so small as the Wolverine, the Bear went off and left them in 

In ancient books the Wolverine is credited with being the 
inveterate enemy of the Beaver and the Reindeer. One might 
reasonably infer from two favourite and precious pictures of 
fifty years ago that these two and none other were its habitual 
and limited diet. All the evidence I can gather, and it is 
much, goes to show that while it can climb and swim 
it is not much at home in the trees or in the water. In 

" Ibid., p. 372. 







/ / 

'llllliililt/ , ^ 




i... /. 




1 / 

ii\ 11 


90^ Life-histories of Northern Animals 

other words, both Deer and Beaver are usually safe from 
its attacks. 

Hearne, after living for years in the fur countries, writes:" 
"These animals are great enemies to the Beaver, but the 
manner of life of the latter prevents them from falling into their 
clutches so frequently as many other animals; they commit vast 
depredations on the Foxes during the summer, while the young 
ones are small; their quick scent directs them to their dens, and 
if the entrance be too small, their strength enables them to 
widen it, and go in and kill the mother and all the cubs. In fact, 
they are the most destructive animals in the country." Richard- 
son's views are in line.^° It "feeds [he says] chiefly upon the car- 
cases of beasts that have been killed by accident. * * * It feeds 
also on Meadow-mice, Marmots, and other rodentia, and occa- 
sionally on disabled quadrupeds of a larger size. I have seen 
one chasing an American Hare, which was at the same time 
harassed by a snowy owl." Coues, condensing many accounts, 
says" they will devour "anything they can catch or steal. Their 
own flesh is eatable only in the extreme of starvation," but he 
does not make it clear whether it is the hunter or the Wolverine 
that must be starving before it will eat Wolverine meat. Han- 
bury records the species feeding on Ground-squirrels. 

The more light we have on the habits of the Wolverine, 
the more its living prey diminishes in size, and I doubt not 
that continued investigation will dwindle its main support into 
Ground-squirrels or Mice, with even these taking second 
place in its affections to carrion or stolen meat. Nevertheless, 
a marked and wonderful exception has just come to hand; an 
evidence of what this creature can do when pushed by the dire 
extremity of famine. J. Keele, of the Canadian Geological 
Survey, while travelling on Third Lake, Ross River (an affluent 
of the Pelly), March 27, 1908, came on a Moose that was floun- 
dering in the deep snow. He and his companion shot it before 
they realized that it was already done nearly to death by a 
Wolverine that had leaped on its back from a tree.-' 

" Journey, 1795, p. 372. " F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 43. 

" Fur-bearing Anim., 1877, p. 52. '* Forest and Stream, December 19, 1908, p. 971. 

Wolverine 965 

The name of Skunk-bear is not at all a bad one in de- 
scribing the fur of the Wolverine. With the size of a small 
Bear, something of the quality of a Bear robe, and yet with the 
two paler bands spreading from the nape of the neck along the 
sides to unite again in the bushy. Skunk-like tail, which further 
rejoices in a respectable modicum of smell to complete the semi- 
imitation, it is quite worthy of its trapper's name. 

During the eighty-five years, 1821 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 101,426 skins of this species, 
an average of 1,192 for each year. The lowest was 402 in 1827; 
the highest, 2,322, in 1879. The average for the ten years, 
1895 to 1905, was 736. 

Poland's lists show that during the seventy-one years, 
1821 toi89i inclusive, 10,596 skins were taken by the other 
American companies, an average of 149 for each year. So 
that the average annual catch of Wolverine for fur is about 

At the London annual fur sales, held at Lampson's, 
March, 1906, 757 Wolverine skins were sold. The highest 
price realized was 34 shillings ($8.16) each, for 64 first-class 
dark skins, from which they graded down to 7 shillings ($1.68) 
for third-class skins. 

The Winnipeg market quotations on March 26, 1904, were 
$2 to $6 for prime Wolverine. 


The Hudsonian Skunk, Northern Skunk, Black- 
tailed Skunk, or Prairie Polecat. 

Mephitis hudsonica Richardson. 

(L. Mephitis, a pestilential exhalation; L. hudsonica, Hudsonian, i.e., of Hudson 
Bay Territory.) 

Mephitis americana var. hudsonica Richardson, 1829, F. B. 

A., I, p. 55- 
Mephitis hudsonica Bangs, 1895, Proc. Bost. Soc. N. H., 

XXVI, p. 534. 
Type Locality. — Plains of the Saskatchewan. 

French Canadian, I'Enfant du diable; le Chinche; 

la Mouffette; la Bete puante. 
Cree, Ojib. & Saut., Shee-gawk'. In this we see 

the origin of the word 'Chicago,' meaning 

Yankton Sioux, Mah-cah. 
Ogallala Sioux, Mah-kah'. 
Chipewyan, NooV-tsee-a. 
Huron, Scangaresse (Sagard-Theodat). 
Abenaki, Seganku (Rasles). The word 'Skunk' is 

traced to the last two Indian words. 

The true Skunks belong to the Weasel Family (Mustelidce) 
and to the Digger or Badger sub-division of the group {Melince). 
They form the genus Mephitis (Cuvier, 1800) and are about 
the size of a common house cat; have short ears, long fur, very 
large and bushy tails, are black in colour, with a thin white 


Hudsonian Skunk 


stripe on the face and a broad one beginning on the nape, fork- 
ing on the shoulders to reach to the hind-quarters or sometimes 
nearly to the tip of the tail; they are at least partly plantigrade, 
and have the fore-claws very large and suited for digging; but, 

Fig. 225 — The right front and right hind-paw of Hudsonian Skunk. 
Taken at Marshalltown, la. (Life size.) 

above all, they have greatly developed anal glands which pro- 
duce the liquid musk that they eject with such notable effect 
in self-defence. 

The teeth are: 

-. 7-2 i-i 3-3 , i-i 

Inc. ^^-^; can. ; prem. ^^-^; mol. = 34 

3-3 I-I 3-3 2-2 

In addition to these generic characters the Hudsonian 
Skunk has: 

Length, about 28 inches (711 mm.); tail, io| inches size 
(267 mm.); hind-foot, 3^ inches (82 mm.). 

968 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

A large male which I weighed in the Yellowstone Park, 
July 29, 1897, was 8| pounds; another, a winter specimen 
taken in Iowa, weighed 7I pounds. 

General colour black, with a thin stripe down the face 
between the eyes, and the usual white nape from which a broad 
white, or creamy white, stripe goes back to the shoulders, 
where it forks and continues along the sides into the tail, which 
is of black hairs with white bases, and ends in a blinit black 

Their black and white colour, with their size, their slow 
movements, and their immense bushy tail, usually held aloft, 
will distinguish the true Skunks from any other animals found 
in North America. 

Brown or cream-coloured freaks of most kinds of Skunks 
have been found. 

At least 8 species of Mephitis are recognized; of these, 3 
enter Canada. Taking Howell's "Revision"' as a starting 
point, these may be diagnosed as follows: 

Canada Skunk (M. mephitis Schreber). — Size, large; that 
is, about 24 inches long, of which the tail is 8 inches; the hind- 
foot is about 3 inches. The tail short and slender, mixed black 
and white; all its hairs are white at base; tip, white. The 
side stripes from shoulder are narrow, but usually reach the 
tail. Markings constant; skull large and massive. 

Two races- of this are recognized, the typical mephitis, or 
Northern form, and the Eastern Skunk, M. mephitis putida 
(Boitard), which differs mainly in being smaller with longer 
tail; that is, in length about 22 inches, tail about 9 inches, hind- 
foot about 2| inches. 

Northern Plains Skunk {M. hudsonica Rich.). — Size, 
very large; that is, length about 28 inches or more, of which the 
tail is about 10^ inches; the hind-foot 3I inches. The tail 
is of medium length, heavy and ending in a blunt black brush; 
skull heavy, with a long palate; zygomata broadly spreading. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 20, August, 1901. 

' Howell makes them species; I follow Rhoads in making them races. 

Cut from A. H. Howell's " Revision of the Skunl;s," plate VI. N. A. Fauna, No. 20, looi. Biological Survey. U. S. Dep. .'^gr. 

Cut from \V. H. Osgood's " Yukon Region." p. 44. N. A. Fauna, No. 19, 1900, Biological Survey, U. S. Dep. Agr. 

Hudsonian Skunk 


PUGET Sound Skunk (M. occidentalis spissigrada Bangs). 
— Much like hudsonica, but with longer tail and well-marked 
cranial characters; skull much narrower, etc. 

The Skunk of the Manitoba prairies is the Great Plains 
Skunk, but it is quite likely that in the wooded north-eastern 

Fig. 226 — Head of Hudsonian Skunk cf . from Iowa. (Life size.) 

part of the Province we may find the true Mephitis mephitis 
(Schreber) or Canada Skunk. 

The present species is found in every part of south- range 

T» /r • 1 , • • 1 • r 1 1 IN MANI- 

western Manitoba, but is scarce in the pine forest to the north- toba 
east. Its greatest numbers are found in the broad pond and 
poplar belt from Dufiferin to Dawson. 

Its favourite localities are the edges of the woods and envi- 
marshes, where sunlight and cover mingling provide it with ment 
abundant food, as well as warmth and shelter. It likes the 
dense forest less than it does the open prairie. The traveller 
on the Souris Plains is sure to meet with some Skunks or have 

970 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

them visit his camp by night, but the great pine forest is almost 

HOME- The home-range of each individual is doubtless very 

RANGE 11 T-l > 1 1 ,- ,-^ 

small. 1 he creature s powers and mode of life preclude the 
possibility of its roaming far afield. I have often followed its 
tracks in the early or late snow, from the den through many 
places and adventures in quest of food, then back to the den, to 
learn that at no time did it go more than two or three hundred 
yards from home. In warm weather, because more active, it 
may go farther, but this is doubtful, because food is more 
plentiful then and it is still less forced to travel. I believe a 
half-mile radius would reach the Ultima Thule of its ordinary 

ABUN- In the dry part of the pond and poplar belt of Manitoba, 

it would be safe to estimate the Skunk at i to every square 
mile. In the prairie region, it is probably a fifth as numerous, 
and in the pine forest the number may be again divided by 5. 
This would give us a Skunk population of some 20,000. To 
approach the problem from another side, the Hudson's Bay 
Company exports about 10,000 Skunk skins each year. 
Judged by area, about half must be of this species, and one- 
tenth of these, again, come from Manitoba, but the free traders 
get as many as the Company, and half at least of those killed 
are destroyed by farmers who do not skin them. So that 
2,000 each year is not too high an estimate of those killed in 
Manitoba by man alone, besides which are many enemies that 
will surely double the casualty list. The average number of 
young seen with the mother in the fall is 2 or not more than 3; 
the litter at birth is double as many. This shows that the 
destruction of the very young by Coyotes, Foxes, Badgers, 
owls, eagles, etc., is very high, and also that, since winter 
hardships are still ahead, the Skunks cannot double their 
number in a year; 50 per cent, drain is all I believe the species 
can stand in the most favourable food localities. But the 
Skunks in Manitoba are far from decreasing under the esti- 


This map is founded chiefly on A. H. Howell's Revision. N. A. Fauna No. 20. 1901. Spotted on it are all the records he gives for the 
species found in Canada, except occidentalis which barely enters British Columbia. Additional records by E. A. Preble, J. Alden Loring, and E. T. 
Seton are marked. The zig-zag line is range of the Hooded Skunk f.1/. macroura); this is left untinted to avoid obscuring the range of estor. 

Mephilis mephitis (Shaw) with 2 races, 
Mephitis hadsonica Rich., 
Mephitis putida Boitard, 

Mephitis elongata Bangs, 

Mephilis mesomelas Licht., with 3 races. 

Mephitis estor Merriam, 

Mephitis occidentalis Baird. with s races. 

Mephitis platyrhina (Howell), 

Mephitis macroura Licht., with 3 races. 



972 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

mated drain of 4,000 adults per annum. This would pre- 
suppose a population of not less than 10,000. Between 10,000 
and 20,000, then, would be a fair estimate of the Skunks living 
in Manitoba to-day. 

The species is said by many trappers to go occasionally in 
droves of 6, 8, or 10. Kennicott cites^ a case where there were 
15 together in a winter den. This is true, but these droves are 
simply the family of the year. They stay together all fall and 
winter, though now full grown, inhabiting one nest and seeking 
food together. In this limited sense only is the Skunk sociable 
and gregarious. 

It is a very silent animal, but it utters a low 'churring' or 
scolding sometimes, when it is disturbed, without being much 
excited, and I have heard one growl as it seized on a grass- 
hopper. It sometimes expresses anger or defiance by stamping 
with its front feet, and its loud sniffing at curious or strange 
objects is an expression of interest fully comprehended by its 

The monstrous bushy tail and the black-and-white pat- 
tern are no doubt direction or recognition marks that are 
well known to the live creatures of its region. Day or night, 
they notify all the world: "I am a Skunk; no one can hurt me 
with impunity." The wild folk do not fail to profit by this 
blazonment of the fact, and thus, incidentally, the Skunk is 
saved a deal of unprofitable exertion. 

Abbott H. Thayer, I learn, takes the contrary view. He 
believes that the markings of the Skunk are intended to hide it 
from its prey, by breaking up its breadth of black. 

In Manitoba, the mating season appears to be from the 
first to the middle of March, and most of the hunters believe 
that the species is strictly monogamous. Miles Spencer, of 
Fort George, Hudson Bay, thinks' that the Skunk mates in 
October, but I find no other supporter of this view. 

' Quad. 111., 1858, p. 249. ■* Low. E.\pl. James Bay., 1888, App. Ill, p. 77 J. 

Hudsonian Skunk 973 

If the Skunk digs its own habitation, it usually selects a den 
dry place on some hillside, but sometimes uses the burrow of 
a Badger or a Muskrat, or it enlarges the den of a Ground- 
squirrel to proper dimensions. It is also very ready to use a 
place under an out-house or farm-building; indeed, any kind of 
a hole will appeal to the Skunk, provided it be large enough, dry 
enough, and near enough to food. Kennicott says:^ "Those 
who have opened the burrows on the prairie say that it digs 
a hole 5 to ID feet in extent and a foot or two below the surface; 
at the end a large chamber is excavated, and in this a nest of 
soft grass is placed. The burrows which I have observed 
were always on high ground, and usually in sandy soil; they 
were never at the edges of watercourses and ponds, like those 
of the Mink. In rocky regions its residence will be found in 
the crevices of the rocks. * * * I have occasionally known it 
to take refuge in fallen hollow trees." 

A. S. Barton writes me that the Skunk abounds in the 
flat marshy country about Boissevain, Man., and that the un- 
usual conditions there have resulted in a new kind of Skunk 
architecture. "I found," he says, "a number of Skunk dens 
on the open meadows one year. They were made like the 
houses of Muskrats, but much smaller, on dry land, and of 
fine grass. I thought them the work of some abnormal Musk- 
rat till I poked a stick in one and provoked the occupant to 
fire ofi^ his unmistakable scent." 

I have no evidence on the period of gestation. It is likely to young 
be nearly the same as in the Mink, that is, 42 days. The young 
are born about the end of April or early in May, and number 
usually 4 to 6, but have been known as high as 10 in a litter. 

At birth they are about the size of a Mouse, are naked, and 
yet show plainly, in two shades, the pattern of the livery they 
are destined to wear. Indeed it is easier to follow the plan of 
markings now than at any other time. Eyes and ears alike are 
closed for some days after they enter this world of sights and 

' hoc. cit., p. 248. 

974 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

M. L. Michael, of the Skunk-farm once existing in Monroe 
County, Pa., gives the following interesting illustration of the 
mother Skunk's devotion. 

"One night," says he,° "I brought a female and her 7 
babies, two or three weeks old, and enclosed them in a wooden 
box. In the morning they were gone. The mother had 
gnawed through the corner of her prison. Knowing that the 
young, unable to walk, had been carried by their mother, I 
called a dog trained to trail them, which at once led off. I 

-Young of M. putida just before birth (life £ 
Cos Cob, Conn., May i 

followed closely. A mile away the mother was located in a 
burrow. My men dug, and there we found her with her 7 
children. By noting her tracks across a freshly harrowed field, 
we discovered that she had made 4 trips, bearing necessarily 2 
each trip, except once, when she took but i." Thus she 
travelled 7 miles that night. 

About the time their eyes opened many young Skunks 
were brought by the Indians to Hine's taxidermist shop at 
Winnipeg. Though no larger than half-grown rats, they would 
at once, v/hen frightened, assume their traditional attitude of 
defence, and go through all the motions of receiving an enemy 
and repelling him with the musk. But the musk itself was 
lacking. When they were about a month old, however, it began 
to be secreted, and henceforth grew in strength and quantity till 
at three months the Skunklets were fully equipped and usually 
had to be destroyed for their over-readiness to prove its power. 

The young remain in the den all spring, never going more 
than a few yards away from home, and live on milk. About 

° Recreation Magazine, November, 1901, p. 362. 

Hudsonian Skunk 


midsummer they begin to follow their mother abroad like a 
litter of little pigs after the old sow. They are such a pretty 
playful lot and she such a loving and assiduous guardian that 
the group realizes the ideal of family life, excepting perhaps in 
one particular — the father is not present. After many in- 
quiries among hunters and naturalists I am forced to believe 

cighed only 3 lbs., yet 

Fig. 228 — Mastology of Skxmk. 

Illustrated by specimen of Af. putida. Cos Cob, Conn., May 12, 1908. 

3 lbs., yet contained 6 young near birth. The aggregate weight of the young was about 3 t 

that the mother alone is active in caring for the brood, at least 
when they are very small. 

Their growth is rapid. In Ontario, I once found the 
young {putida) one-third grown and travelling abroad on 
June 21, and the other two-thirds grown by the first week 
of July. 

Soon after this the group is increased, it would seem, by 
the return of the father, for I have several times seen a 
large male Skunk travelling with them, in the fall, and am 
inclined to think that he returns to his family as soon as the 
mother gives him permission. Now the reunited party wan- 
der about their own range, not caring in the least whether or 
not they reach home at bedtime, which is dawn. 


976 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

By October the younjj might pass for aduhs, but careful 
comparison shows them to be a Httle smaller and much lighter 
in weight than the old ones. 

They continue with their parents all fall and all winter. 
During the coldest weather they roll up together in their under- 
ground home, sometimes the one in which the litter was 
born, and become torpid till called forth by a spell of warmer 

The actual breaking up of the family is in the spring- 
time, and the immediate cause seems to be the rearousing 
mating instinct or, at least, the instinctive desire of the mother 
to be alone when the next brood arrives. The young of the 
previous year are now fully grown and able not only to care 
for themselves, but probably also to breed. 

THE The Skunk is famous the world over for its 'smell-gun.' 

This has nothing at all to do with the urine, as vulgar error 
would have it. The fluid is a liquid musk secreted by two 
large glands under the tail. All the Weasels are pro\ided with 
these, but they reach their glorious perfection in the Skunk and 
furnish it with a wonderfully effective weapon of defence. 
The glands are situated on each side of the anus; the duct from 
them is ordinarily hidden away within the rectum, but can be 
protruded for service. 

"The secretion is a clear limpid fluid of amber or golden- 
yellow colour, has an intensely acid reaction, and in the evening 
is slightly luminous."' {Merriam.) It has several other prop- 
erties of interest. Those who have never smelt it may realize 
some of its power if they imagine a mixture of perfume musk, 
essence of garlic, burning sulphur and sewer gas, intensified 
a thousand times. It is so strong that under certain circum- 
stances it can be smelled for miles down wind. I remember 
one summer evening at Carberry, Man., being greeted with 
the powerful odour in great and sudden force; next day I found 
that at that time a Skunk had been defending himself against a 
dog on the open prairie, one and a half miles to windward of me. 

'Mam. .Adir., 1884, p. 76. 

(it. pulida.) 

Hudsonian Skunk 


And woe to the unhappy creature that is made the offen- 
target of this battery. If it reaches his eyes it may cause ^^g 
blindness, at least for a time; in his nostrils it acts as a chok- 
ing irritant. The smell alone is powerful enough to upset 
most stomachs, and in some 
cases causes convulsions, 
fainting, and even death. 
Certain individuals are much 
less powerfully affected than 
others, but, as a rule, men, 
dogs, and wild creatures 
with one accord prefer to let 
the Skunk alone. They 
will endure a terribly hard 
pinch of hunger before invit- 
ing a volley from the ' Smell- 
cat's' famous 'breech-load- 
er,' which, by the way, is 
also a 'repeater,' for it con- 
tains not one round, as 
some have supposed, but 
enough for nearly a dozen 
discharges, depending somewhat on the size and age of the 
Skunk, as well as the time that has elapsed since last it was 
justified in protecting itself. 

Like the rattlesnake, it usually gives fair notice, and acts habits 
only on the defensive. Let the Skunk alone and it will let you 
alone. When approached by an enemy, it usually makes off, 
ambling deliberately, and evidently unwilling to provoke 
attack. If the enemy follow and overtake it, as a man may 
easily do, it turns and faces about, and seems to say, "all right 
if you will have it, come on." But it still gives you three fair 
warnings — which is almost scripturally correct; the first by 
facing about and stamping, the second by raising and spreading 
the tail, all but the tip which hangs downward. The third 
final and dreadful warning is, when the tip rises up and spreads 

Fig. 229 — Anal scent-gland of M. pulida 9 dissected and 
raised to expose the rectum (R). Life size, but a 
very small example. 

Cos Cob, Conn., Oct. 12, 1908. 

978 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

out. That white flag nailed to the mast does not mean 'sur- 
render,' but clear the deck for action. Then you look out! 
Stand perfectly still! make no sudden move; it may not yet be 
too late! The Skunk, especially if an experienced old fellow, 
may change its mind, haul down the fighting signal, mast and 
all, forgive you, and go quietly away. A young hunter or a 
young dog is likely to rush forward at the beautiful, innocent- 
looking animal, and, just as he is about to seize it, is sure 
to get the charge of blinding, poisonous spray, after which the 
Skunk will turn and go on its way rejoicing, quite confident 
that that enemy is permanently routed. 

Very few animals will face the Mephitis; it is accustomed 
to deference. But I knew of a Skunk that made a sad mistake 
when, on finding a nest of new-born kittens out in a fence 
corner, it sat down to make a comfortable meal off^ them. 
Their loud mewing brought the old cat at racing speed. 
Raging and fearless, she flew at that Skunk. What can face 
a mother cat .'' What will not a mother cat face, for her 
young ? The Skunk fought with all its weapons, muzzle- 
loader and breech-loader, long arms and short arms, but was 
badly defeated and escaped, not to be wiser — Skunks do not 
seem to learn discretion — but probably to die. How well I 
remember that old cat, smelling to heaven, and blinking her 
bloodshot eyes so hard as she silently endured the torment 
and stench. We had a profound reverence for her heroism, 
but we could not endure her person, and, for many weeks after- 
wards, she was energetically invited to tarry in the wilderness. 

The distance to which the spray can be thrown usually is 
4 to 6 or, in exceptional cases, perhaps lo feet. If the Skunk 
is approached on the windward side, the distance is greatly 
reduced. I have more than once seen persons draw near the 
Skunk with little fear, because the animal was face on, and 
tradition hath it that the gun points backwards and is only 
used in Parthian fight. But this turns out at once to be a grave 
error. The Skunk throws its brush forward and to one side, 
bends down its back, protrudes the anus, and the pipe of the 
gland then shoots the dreadful liquid towards the foe, with 

Hudsonian Skunk 979 

fearful precision. As a matter of fact, I think the Skunk 
rarely fires straight backward. Its gun can be trained in any 
direction or at any elevation, but it prefers to aim at a foe that 
it can clearly see. 

Usually it is careful to keep its coat and tail clear of the 
fluid ; it never deliberately shoots without elevating the tail and 
clearing the deck. This has given rise to the belief that it 
cannot shoot with the tail down. Some even maintain that a 
Skunk may be safely lifted by the tail, as such handling puts 
the gun out of gear. I doubt not Skunks have suffered their 
captors to lift them by the tail without retaliating, but I am 
satisfied it was choice, not incompetence, that restrained them. 

Although Skunk musk is so potent as to nauseate many 
animals, to choke some and blind others, it is a curious fact, as 
every hunter knows, that a hound while running a Rabbit, may 
run into a Skunk and be so soaked with the musk that he flies 
in agony to the nearest stream to roll in the mud and wash 
his burning eyes and nostrils, then, within ten minutes, though 
still stinking unspeakably, he will take up the faint Rabbit 
trail again. I do not know how to explain this. 

It is often said that clothing once skunked will smell for- 
ever. This is a mistake; the odour is strong and durable but 
can be destroyed. The usual method is to bury the tainted 
garments. But a better and simpler way is to send them to 
the cleaner — provided he will accept them — and there the 
benzine method may be relied on to destroy all traces of the 
'child of the devil,' as our French neighbours call the Skunk. 

While I was living in a shanty at Yancey's in the Yellow- inof- 
stone Park, in 1897, a family of Skunks of this species made ness 
their home under the floor. They came out every evening to 
pick up scraps about the door or climb into garbage pails in 
search of eatables. They would even venture into the house 
when the door was left open. But no one molested them, even 
the dog refrained, so that the summer passed without offence. 

Late one evening, I caught a couple of them in a box-trap 
in order to keep them till the light was better, that I might take 

980 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

their pictures. The Skunks watched me setting the trap, then 
waddled into it without loss of time, and were caught. How- 
ever, among the revolver-carrying mountain men I could not 
find any one brave enough to help me in carrying the box full 
of Skunks over to the place where they were to be photographed. 
I might have had trouble, but that my wife volunteered, and 
the process of immortalization was duly carried out next day 
at close range. More than once the Skunks gave warnings No. i 
and No. 2, but I apologized by remaining still, and signal No. 3 
was not hoisted, nor had our pleasant acquaintance any rupture. 

Near Toronto, July 5, 1888, 1 had an interesting adventure 
with the Ontario species {putida). 

Two men in my employ called my attention to an old 
Skunk and two well-grown young ones that were walking across 
a field. I told the men to do as I did, then took a stout board 
and ran after one of the 'smellers.' He ambled off but, finding 
me close on him, he faced about and made ready for action. 
I approached holding the board in front of me. When I was 
7 or 8 feet away he fired over his own head. I jumped, and the 
shower reached the spot whereon I had stood. Before he could 
get another charge ready I rushed at him, pushed his tail down, 
with the board laid on his back, then, slipping a hand under 
each end, I caught him by the neck and the tail, and carried 
him in triumph to a box. The men tried to do the same, but 
both got badly 'skunked,' especially the one who attacked the 
mother; she made good her escape, but the other young one 
was put in a box with his brother. This adventure cost me two 
suits of clothes. 

These Skunks I gave to Dr. W. Brodie. He kept them in 
his yard in Toronto, and for some months had no reason to 
regret it, until one day a neighbour's tom-cat conceived the 
brilliant but unhappy thought of dining on one of the 'smellers.' 
The results were many, the cat was temporarily blinded, and 
the neighbour brought the police, so that ultimately we were 
compelled to dispense with our Skunks as pets inside the city 

Hudsonian Skunk 981 

I have had several tame Skunks, some of them in full pos- 
session of their powers, and rarely have had cause to rue the 
adoption of such unfragrant pets. Still there was always 
danger of strange dogs rushing in unwittingly and provoking 
a round of the irresistible 'scatter-gun.' 

One of these Skunks was killed by a meal of very strong 
cheese; this was always thought to be a rare tribute to the 
strength of that particular brand. 

His final death struggle culminated in a grand discharge 
of his battery, a parting salute to the earth and his friends, and 
the cheese. 

It is quite possible to disarm a Skunk, not by kindness, but dis- 
by a surgical operation as "performed by Dr. J. M. Warren, of 
Boston, in the year 1849. It consists in making an incision 
through the skin directly in front of the anus and in snip- 
ping the ducts of the glands and the basis of the nipple-like 
papillae, which projects into the gut just within the sphincter. 
Adhesive inflammation follows and permanently occludes 
the ducts at the point of division. Therefore, although 
the glands themselves are left in situ, the animal is for- 
ever after incapable of ridding himself of their contents."' 

My own experiences with tame Skunks have been slight 
compared with those of Dr. Merriam, therefore I quote from 
his account:' "Skunks, particularly when young, make very 
pretty pets, being attractive in appearance, gentle in disposition, 
interesting in manners, cleanly in habits — rare qualities indeed! 
They are playful, sometimes mischievous, and manifest con- 
siderable affection for those that have the care of them. I have 
had, at diff^erent times, ten live Skunks in confinement. 

From some of them I removed the scent bags, but the 
greater number were left in a state of nature. None of 
them ever emitted any odour, although a couple of them, 
when half grown, used to assume a painfully suggestive atti- 

°Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 78-9. ^ Ibid., pp. 73-5. 

982 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

tude on the too near approach of strangers — so suggestive 
indeed that their visitors commonly beat a hasty retreat. 

Two summers ago I was the happy master of the cleverest young 
Skunk that I have thus far chanced to meet. For a name he 
received the title of his genus and we called him 'Meph' for 
short. By way of precaution I removed his scent sacs, and 
he made a rapid and complete recovery after a few days of 
temporary indisposition. While driving about the country in 
the performance of professional duties, he usually slept in my 
pocket. After supper I commonly took a walk, and he always 
followed close at my heels. If I chanced to walk too fast for 
him, he would scold and stamp with his fore-feet, and if I per- 
sisted in keeping too far ahead, would turn about, disgusted, and 
make off in an opposite direction; but if I stopped and called 
him, he would hurry along at a short ambling pace and soon 
overtake me. He was particularly fond of ladies, and I think 
it was the dress that attracted him; but, be this as it may, he 
would invariably leave me to follow any lady that chanced to 
come near. We used to walk through the woods to a large 
meadow which abounded in grasshoppers. Here 'Meph' 
would fairly revel in his favourite food, and it was rich sport 
to watch his manoeuvres. When a grasshopper jumped, he 
jumped, and I have seen him with as many as three in his 
mouth and two under his fore-paws at one time. He would eat 
so many that his over-distended little belly actually dragged 
upon the ground, and when so full that he could hold no more, 
would still catch and slay them. When so small that he could 
scarcely toddle about, he never hesitated to tackle the largest 
and powerful beetle known as 'horned bug,' and got many 
smart nips for his audacity. But he was a courageous little 
fellow, and it was not long before he learned to handle them 
with impunity, and it was very amusing to see him kill one. 
Ere many weeks he ventured to attack a Mouse, and the 
ferocity displayed in its destruction was truly astonishing. He 
devoured the entire body of his victim, and growled and stamped 
his feet if any one came near before the repast was over. 

Hudsonian Skunk 983 

"His nest was in a box near the foot of the stairs, and 
before he grew strong enough to climb out by himself he would, 
whenever he heard me coming, stand on his hind-legs, with his 
paws resting on the edge of the box, and beg to be carried up- 
stairs. If I passed by without appearing to notice him, he 
invariably became much enraged and chippered and scolded 
away at a great rate, stamping, meanwhile, most vehemently. 
He always liked to be carried up to my office, and as soon as 
strong enough would climb up of his own accord. He was 
very sprightly and frolicsome, and used to hop about the floor 
and run from room to room in search of something to play with, 
and frequently amused himself by attempting to demolish my 
slippers. I have often given him a bit of old sponge with a 
string attached, in order to keep him out of mischief. During 
the evening he occasionally assumed a cunning mood, and 
would steal softly up to my chair and, standing erect, would 
claw at my pants once or twice, and then scamper off as fast as 
his little legs could carry him, evidently anxious to have me 
give chase. If I refused to follow, he was soon back to try a 
new scheme to attract my attention." 

Skunks can bite when necessary and are credited with fight- 
having occasionally transmitted hydrophobia, much as any 
other carnivore might. When they fight among themselves 
they are said to observe an unwritten law to abstain from 
using the musk. Evidently it would be wasted in such a 
combat. It would be like two ducks splashing each other. 
A Skunk fight is said, then, to be strictly one of tooth and claw. 
I never witnessed one, but the following detailed case repre- 
sents several that I have heard of. 

About the end of February, 1903, at Welch, Minn., Lee R. 
Gridley, of Appleton, Wis., was out with another trapper. 
They were following a Skunk track, and presently came on the 
animal fighting desperately with another of its kind. The 
Skunks struggled for a minute or two in silence, and neither of 
them used his musk. The trappers came up and killed one 
of the combatants; it was a male. The other escaped — doubt- 

984 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

less it also was a male — but was so injured that it never came 
out of the hole into which it had crawled at the approach of the 

SLIGHT- On several occasions I have known this animal to show a 

LY • • J- • 1 • 

AQUATIC surpnsmg readiness in taking to water. 

On May 23, 1882, while travelling near Turtle Mountain, 
Man., I surprised a Skunk in the open; he turned to face me, 
but stones were plentiful and my range was longer than his, so 
he ran off. I followed and, each time he faced about, I drove 
him on with handfuls of pebbles till he was routed and fled 
with unusual haste. Too much so, indeed, for he ran onto a 
longspit of land that projected into a small lake. At the margin 
he hesitated, but a new shower of pebbles urged him forward, 
and he took to the water, swimming for a low island inthemiddle, 
fifty yards away. When he got there it turned out to be noth- 
ing but floating weeds. This was a sad disappointment; he 
turned to swim back to the shore, but stones showered in the 
water stopped him. He was forced to cross the lake, here one 
hundred yards wide, and very cold. When he reached the 
bank I was there to meet him. But he was much numbed and 
lay almost lifeless. Now I took pity on him and pulled him 
out; he made no attempt to defend himself, but tamely sub- 
mitted. I carried him to a warm sunny nook, and there left him 
to recover in peace. This he no doubt did, for I now suspect 
that he was not so far gone as he seemed, but, finding that his 
customary defence had failed, was skilfully playing 'possum. 
The Skunk is not usually said to be aquatic, but on 
October 2, 1883, I saw 5 Skunks dabbling in the mud along a 
pond near Minnedosa, Man., and Miller Christy, in his paper 
on the "Mammals of Manitoba," says:'" "One evening last 
June I assisted in the extermination of a family party — of 
Skunks — consisting of an old one and six young ones, which 
were taking a bath at the edge of the lake. The Skunks seem 
to be fond of the water, as on another occasion I remember 
shooting one from a boat as he was near by bathing." 

"> Nat. Hist. Journal, May 15, 1885, York, Eng. 




i ' 

\ y 




Scene described by L. \V. Walker of Yellowstone Park. 

Hudsonian Skunk 985 

The late W. G. A. Brodie informed me that once, near 
Toronto, when his dog had discovered a Skunk {putida), the 
latter availed itself of the first opportunity to rush into the Don 
River, some fifty yards away. The dog followed and, after a 
prolonged and partly subaqueous struggle, the Skunk floated 
up dead and the dog returned to the shore perfumed in the 
usual way. 

Similarly Preble relates" of the Keewatin Skunk (mephit- 
ica): "While paddling up the channel between Windy and 
Pine Lakes, on September 12, we saw a Skunk swimming 
across the stream, a hundred yards in front of our canoe. 
On seeing us he redoubled his exertions, but we overtook 
* * * him just as he reached the shore." 

It is quite settled now that by far the largest part of the food 
Skunk's food is grasshoppers, crickets, insects, and Meadow- 
mice. Ground-squirrels are the next on the bill of fare, with 
eggs when it can find them. Frogs and crayfish enter largely 
into the list and snakes provide it an occasional meal. Kenni- 
cott records'- that he knew of a Skunk running Gray-rabbits 
into their holes and there devouring them. At rare intervals 
it discovers the hennery and, accustomed to the respect of all the 
world, enters into possession without a doubt that all this was 
meant for itself. Eggs and chickens, also hens that happen to 
be roosting too low, are very much to its taste. Commonly, 
however, the farmer has the opportunity of executing sum- 
mary vengeance in the morning, for the Skunk, with its usual 
eff^rontery, is frequently found curled up asleep in the nest that 
it rifled for the midnight feast. 

The Skunk, then, is insectivorous and carnivorous, indeed 
nothing of animal nature comes amiss, be it flesh or fish, bug or 
carrion. But its powers are limited; it is as ill-adapted for 
running down Hares as for catching salmon in a whirlpool, or 
chasing Squirrels in the tree tops, so that practically it is an 
insect-eater. And however good (or bad) its intention may be, 

" N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, p. 65. 

" Quad, 111., Pat. Off. Rep., 1859, p. 249. 

986 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

it is a flesh-eater only at intervals. It is credited with eating 
fruit. I never saw one do so, but have seen plenty of berry 
seed in what I took to be Skunk 'sign.' 

TRAP- This animal has so long enjoyed immunity from attack 

through the terror of its armament, that it has neglected modes 
of defence that its ancestors undoubtedly employed. Like 
the rattlesnake, it has lost its speed, its ability to climb a tree, 
and its keen wits. In truth, it has become slow and stupid; 
satisfied with itself and utterly unsuspicious. Foxes and Wolves 
have a sort of inborn knowledge and distrust of gins and 
springles, no matter how carefully they are concealed. Nothing 
seems capable of inspiring the Skunk with such helpful discre- 
dence. It will go blundering right into the most obvious of traps, 
even after seeing a brother taken there the night, yes, an hour, 
before; yes, even if itself has already been caught therein; 
pitfall, deadfall, steel, or box-trap, it is all the same to the 
Skunk, in it goes. When caught in a steel trap it may be 
easily and safely dispatched by a plan that Dr. Merriam sets 
forth in his "Mammals of the Adirondacks."" 

HOW TO Not by shooting it through the heart or blowing its head 

SKUNK off — such a death is usually accompanied by a tremendous 
discharge — but by one sharp, heavy blow across the back. 
This paralyzes all the muscles below the point of injury, and 
without muscular action no musk can be vented. It is quite 
easy to approach a trapped Skunk if one moves slowly and 
stands still as soon as it shows alarm by raising its tail or trying 
to escape. 

When caught in a box-trap, box and all may be sunk in 
water, for a drowned Skunk rarely smells, but the quickest, 
safest, surest, and most odourless way is that set forth above. 

ENEMIES The Hare is the most harmless of creatures. None fear 

it; it kills none; therefore all kill it. It has no friends. The fear 
of the Skunk is on all flesh; therefore none kill it. It has no 
" Pp. 80-2. 

988 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

foes, excepting always man and one or two of the cutthroats 
and desperadoes of the animal world. 

When facing death by starvation the Fox is said to con- 
sider the Skunk the less of the two evils; doubtless this is a 
question to be carefully pondered. 

The horned owl, the midnight pirate of the woods, is 
known to kill the Skunk. Of course the owl has an advantage 
over all other foes. It is silent, it can swoop down from above, 
seizing the Skunk unawares by neck and loins, much as I did 
when I held my captive under the board. In this way the 
quadruped is nearly helpless. It cannot reach the owl with its 
musk or use its teeth or claws, but it can make the whole place 
intolerable, and doubtless the feathered assailant is often 
repelled. The fact of its smelling strong of Skunk does not 
by any means prove that the owl had dined off Skunk. On such 
evidence I and many of my friends might be proven mephitivo- 
rous carnivores. 

DISEASE "The adult Skunks taken at North Bay are all infected 

by the parasite that disfigures the frontal regions of the skulls 
of a large proportion of specimens of North American Mus- 
telidae. I submitted one of the North Bay skulls with the 
parasites preserved in formalin in situ to Dr. W. McM. Wood- 
worth, who identified the worms as Filaroides mustelarum, a 
viviparous nematode hitherto recorded from Europe only, 
where it has been found in various species of Putorius and 
Mustek.'"^ {Miller.) 

STRANGE f he following strange instance was related to me by Will 

INST AN- o o -* ^ 

cEs H. Thompson, the famous archer: About fifty years ago his 
father, the Rev. Griggs H. Thompson, was travelling through 
a wooded part of Missouri when he heard a loud "qu-a-a-a 
qu-a-a-a qu-a-a-a," like the cry of some little animal in pain. 
He peered through the bushes and saw a Cottontail Rabbit 
leaping over the body of a Skunk, striking it with its hind-feet, 

" Mam. Ont., Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., April, 1897, p. 42. See also Amer. Nat., 
March, 1897, Vol. 31, pp. 234-5. 

Hudsonian Skunk 989 

and uttering the squealing he had heard. The Skunk was 
dead, but evidently killed within a few minutes. Its skull was 
broken. It seemed impossible that the Rabbit should have 
done it, but there was nothing to show who did, or why the 
Rabbit should be fighting the body. 

The Skunk is regularly eaten by Indians and trappers, flesh 
Provided the animal met sudden death and was not too old, the 
flesh is said to be white, tender, and well-flavoured. 

All the Northern species of the group are standard fur- fur 
bearers. Their pelts are cased ; they are prime from November 
I to April I. 

During the fifty-eight years, 1848 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 302,564 skins of this species, 
an average of 5,216 for each year. The lowest were o in 1849 
and 1,263 in 1848; the highest, 12,583, in 1889. The average 
for the ten years, 1895 to 1905, was 9,425. 

Poland's lists show that during the thirty-four years, 1858 
to 1 89 1 inclusive, 9,765,442 skins were taken by the other 
American companies, an average of 287,218 each year. So 
that the average annual catch of Skunk for fur is about 

The Winnipeg market quotations, March 26, 1904, were 
25 cents to $1. 

At the London annual fur sales, held at Lampson's in 
March, 1906, there were sold 445,051 Skunk skins, chiefly 
from the United States. The highest price realized was 11 
shillings ($-2.64) each for a superb lot of 233 Ai black skins. 
Inferior skins went as low as 2 shillings or 3 shillings (48 cents 
and 72 cents). The ruling price for first-class skins was 8 to 9 
shillings ($1.92 to $2.16). 

As Skunks are easily managed in captivity, and very 
prolific, experiments are being made at Skunk-farming for fur. 
I summarize below our knowledge of this new industry. 

990 Life-histories of Northern Animals 


There is no doubt that Skunk-farming can be made to 
pay in spite of the fact that it has failed a great many times. 
In nearly every case of failure the cause has been the same — the 
improper bunching of a miscellaneous lot of Skunks in one 
large enclosure. 

Condensing the experience of numerous observers, I 
should say that the Skunk farmer needs, first, a large loose 
pen, about an acre in extent, with a 6-foot fence. Second, a 
number of well-floored pens, each about lo by 20 feet, for 
the breeding Skunks; walls 2 feet high would be enough to 
keep the Skunks in, but it is desirable to keep dogs, cats, and 
owls out. Chicken-wire over the top of the pens does this 
very well. It should be high enough to allow head room for 
the keeper. 

Of course, the Skunk is a powerful digger; therefore the 
walls of the unfloored pen should go 3 feet underground, and 
at the bottom should have an underhang, either of stone or 
galvanized mesh wire, extending 2 feet in and 2 feet out, to 
prevent digging under from either side. 

A hollow log or other den should be in each breeding pen 
and a number of them in the general pen; sometimes the 
Skunks may be allowed to dig their dens in the loose pen; there 
is, however, some danger of disaster by a cave-in, if the 
ground has been disturbed recently. A good plan is to sink 
a box, or stone-built vault, on some dry knoll. 

A bottomless wooden box is easier to make and manage, 
but it rots in a year or two. 

The good plan for a small Skunkery — and no one should 
begin with a large one — would be on the same lines as that 
suggested for Mink, p. 898. 

The main runs are all the better if much larger, and 
should have a varied surface; the more plants, grass, etc., the 
more insects for the Skunks to hunt out and eat. 

Hudsonian Skunk 991 

These animals are omnivorous and should have a greatly food 
varied diet. Table scraps are excellent, but chicken offal, dog- 
biscuit, milk, oil-cake, mush, johnny-cake, fish, fruit, and 
insects are acceptable and wholesome food. One meal a day is 
enough; it should be given in the evening. Two meals are 
allowable, but should not together exceed the one-meal quantity. 

How much food should each Skunk have ? This is a how 
matter to be determined by experiment. If the Skunk com- 
monly leaves good food, you are giving it too much; if it gets 
thin, you are giving too little. 

A weigh scale is a very good help in determining the latter 

A Skunk eats about as much as a common cat, and nearly 
the same diet — with the addition of insects and fruit. 

By advertising in any country newspaper of the Northern start- 
States, it will be found easy to get as many live Skunks 
as desired. From 50 cents to $;^ each would be fair prices, 
according to age and blackness — the less white on the Skunk 
the more it is worth. The black Skunk is one with white 
on head and tail only. The farther north the better the Skunk. 

On arrival all full-grown individuals may be turned man- 


loose in the general run. If any one seems specially quarrel- ment 
some, it should be shut up by itself; also any weak, small, or 
young should be kept apart. 

In the month of March or April, according to latitude, the 
pregnant females are separated and each given a breeding pen 
to herself. 

If the Skunks do not admit of handling, you can put them 
in a small cage with a mesh-wire floor, and then examine them 
from the under side; the distended belly with the enlarged 
nipples and milk-glands will show which are destined to become 

These breeders should be extra well-fed and supplied with 
some fine hay with which to bed their den. 

992 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Mating takes place in March (varying with latitude) and 
gestation is beheved to last about 6 weeks. Thus most of the 
young will be born about the first of May. The mother must 
not be interfered with at this time, and handling of the young 
is likely to make her destroy them. 

When about two months old they begin to come out of the 
nest and eat with the mother, but when four months old they 
are nearly full grown and may now be introduced to the main 

As winter approaches their food should be increased; the 
colder the weather the better the fur they produce. The fur 
is best about or soon after Christmas, and should then be 

THE Most persons ask at once, but what about the Skunk's 

GUN smeller ? All experience goes to show that the animal never 
uses its musk except in the extremity of self-defence, and may 
live a long life in captivity without ever becoming offensive. 


M.MIKET- 'Marketing' is the word that covers the unhappy process 

of killing the beautiful fur-bearer for its pelt. To kill a Skunk 
the wrong way is to court disaster. The merciful way is by a 
lethal chamber with illuminating gas or by drowning. The 
trapper's method, mentioned in the article on the Skunks, is 
possible, but not one that any tender-hearted person is likely 
to try on his hand-raised Skunks. 

The oil that is rendered out of the fat is said to be of high 
market value on account of its medicinal properties. It is 
certainly an excellent lubricant. 

The bodies, if used to feed the breeding stock, should 
be thoroughly boiled with vegetable food or some other 

GENERAL Ncvcr kcep more than so or 60 Skunks to the acre, other- 

wise you get crowding, ground-poisonmg, and deadly disease. 
The soil in the breeding dens should be turned or other- 
wise refreshed every few weeks. 

Hudsonian Skunk 993 

Cleanliness everywhere all the time is essential. 

Skunks, if helped, will keep themselves as clean as cats, 
and their musk will never be smelt if they are not forced to use 
it in self-defence. 

A diet of all meat, especially raw meat, will kill every 
Skunk on the farm. 

Overfeeding of any kind is as bad as underfeeding. 

There is great individuality of temper, as well as of 
colour — always select the black ones and the gentle ones to 
breed from. From time to time there will appear fierce, 
quarrelsome individuals; these should be removed and mar- 
keted as soon as possible; never allow them to breed. 

Castration of the surplus males will greatly improve the 

The wild Skunk pairs, but it is found that one male is 
enough for a dozen females where they are yarded together. 

The chief causes of death to be guarded against are: 
disease from dirt, overcrowding, wrong food or overfeeding, 
infanticide by strangers entering the den during the mother's 
absence, and loss through great horned owls. The last are 
most dangerous to the young, and these are, of course, safe 
under the chicken-wire. 

The young run from 4 to 9 in a litter. At six months these profits 
may sell from ^i to ^3 per pelt, or, say, the litter bring ^10. 
Forty breeding females is the most one may safely have on an 
acre, so that under the most favourable circumstances this 
would bring a gross return of ;^400, from which we must deduct 
cost of food, fencing, stock, and care, leaving a very small 
profit indeed. 

Thus it appears that Skunk-farming is not an industry 
that promises a very large return. It is possibly a paying 
business if one can handle a stock of 1,000 old ones, but it 
seems to me that its chief use is to train fur-breeders for more 
serious work with more expensive and immensely more profit- 
able animals, such as Marten, Sable, and Silver-fox, or even 

994 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

It is worthy of note that Skunk-farming methods, with 
cages instead of pens, if applied to black cats of the domestic 
race, are quite likely to prove profitable; not only are the 
animals easy to get and handle, but they are much more prolific, 
and the choice skins, if black and prime, fetch as much as an 
ordinary Skunk skin. 


Common Badger of America. 

Taxidea taxus (Schreber). 

(L. Taxidea, from taxus, a Badger, and Gr. eidos, like; Latinized into a name applied 
because of the creature's resemblance to the Old World badger or taxus.) 

Ursus taxus ScHREBER, 1778. Saugthiere, III, p. 520. 
Taxidea taxus Rhoads, 1894, Am. Nat., XXVIII, June, 

P- 524- 

Type Locality.— Usually given as 'Labrador' but 
almost surely Saskatchewan River. 

French Canadian, le Blaireau d' Amerique; le 

Cree, Ojib., & Saut., Mit-ten-usk'. 
Yankton Sioux, Ho-cang. 
Ogallala Sioux, Ho-ka' (=shaggyor bristly). 

The genus Taxidea (Storr, 1780) comprises large animals 
of the Weasel Family (Mustelidae). They have thick, heavy 
bodies, very short tails, short legs, front feet immensely power- 
ful, with long claws and developed for digging; ears, very short, 
and the following teeth: 

T 3-3 i-i 3-3 I i-i 
Inc. ^^-^; can. ; prem. ^=^-^; mol. = 34 

3-3 i-i 3-3 2-2 

To these generic characters the Badger adds: 

Length, about 28 inches (711 mm.); tail, 5 inches (127 size 
mm.); hind-foot, 3J inches (97 mm.). 


99G Life-histories of Northern Animals 

WEIGHT The following Badgers I weighed at Clayton, N. M., in 1893: 

Female, taken October 26, was lo^ pounds. 
Female, taken November 2, was 14 pounds 5 ounces. 
Female, taken December 28, was 16^ pounds (excessively 

Male, taken December 29, was 14I pounds. 
Bachman gives' 23 pounds as the weight of one he ex- 
amined in the Menagerie at Charleston, S. C. 

COLOUR General colour above, silvery gray, each hair being yellow- 

ish-white at base, then blackish with a white tip; neck, crown, 
and muzzle above, brown; cheeks, chin, and stripe from nose 
over head to shoulders, white; under parts generally yellowish- 
white; bar on each cheek, back part of ear, and the feet, dull 
black; tail, tinged yellowish-brown. 

When seen alive it looks like a small Bear that has been 
flattened somehow, coloured silvery gray, and adorned with 
black and white marks on the head. 

The following races are recognized: 

taxus Schreber, the typical form. 

neglecta Mearns, differs in being smaller, with longer 
tail, and with colours deeper and richer than in 
either the preceding or following. 

herlandieri Baird, is distinguished by having the white 
line continued along the back in some cases to 
the tail, also by a general buffiness of colour (as 
compared with the silvery gray of taxus), and 
heavier markings. 

infusca Thomas, similar to herlandieri but darker. 


RANGE The map (No. 53) shows the range of the Badger in the 

North-west to coincide with the untimbered regions in which 
' Aud. & Bach., Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 363. 


Taxidea laxus (Sclireber). 

This map is founded on records by J. Richardson, S. F. Baird, R. Kennicott, E. Coues, R. MacFarlane, C. H. Townsend, E. A. Meams, 
D G. Elliot, J. Fannin, V. Bailey, E. A. Warren, O. Thomas, E. T. Seton, and C. C. Adams, in Northern Michigan. 

It is fairly correct on the north and east, further investigation will change it somewhat on the west, and greatly in Mexico. 

This gives the primitive range, but it is little changed to-day, excepting perhaps that the species is now extermmated in most of the region 
about Lake Michigan. 


998 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the larger kinds of burrowing rodents are found in numbers. 
In the dry poplar country, that is varied with open glades, it is 
occasionally found far from the prairies. MacFarlane records 
a specimen from Isle a la Crosse, in 1889, and 2 from Green 
Lake, 1889 and 1890 (Mam. N. W. T., />. 715). (Spots 2 and i 
on map.) 

While travelling on the Athabaska, in 1907, I was shown 
by the pilot, John MacDonald, a range of hills where 2 Badgers 
were killed by Francois Black, one in 1905, the other in 

The exact neighbourhood was Red Willow Lake, 18 miles 
south-east of Fort MacMurray; the place is spotted (3) on the 
map. He said that the animal was previously unknown there, 
but some Plains Indians, who happened to be at the Post, 
knew these at once and called them ' Mittejiusk.' 

The spot (4) in northern Michigan is on the authority of 
Charles C. Adams {Ecological Surv., N. Mich., 1906, p. 130). 

MANi- In Manitoba, the Badger is confined to the dry prairie 

regions. It is very rare in the half-timbered country, and un- 
known in the thick woods to the north-east. 

It seems indeed to be exact complement of the Wood- 
chuck, which, on account of these facts, is known to the Hud- 
son's Bay Company people as the Thick-wood Badger. 

ENVIRON- Dry rolling prairies of light or gravelly soil, with a high 

populative rate of Ground-squirrels, are the Badger's ideal 

John Atkinson, the Lake Winnipeg guide, writes me that 
he found a few of these animals in the drier country between 
Winnipeg and Whitemouth River, also about the gravelly hills 
east of Gonor. 

On the heavy clay prairies of the Lower Red River, how- 
ever, it is scarce, and, of course, on swampy lands it is unknown. 

HOME- There is little direct evidence at hand to show the home- 

range of an individual Badger, but obviously it must be very 



small. As a matter of opinion, I should say that a Badger may 
pass his whole life within a mile or two miles of his original 
home. In Texas, Vernon Bailey found that one Badger had 
worked all summer in a 20-acre field, and of the species in 

Fig. 231 — Right fore and hind-foot of Badger. 

Taken in Colorado, Sept. 7, 1901. (Life size.^ 

general, he says^ that, when food is scarce, they become great 
travellers, "sinking a house in the earth wherever sleeping- 
time overtakes them." 

In early days there was at least one Badger for every abun- 
square mile of high, dry prairie in Manitoba and perhaps one- ^^'^^ 
third as many on the heavy clay prairies of the Red River 
Valley, which would give a Badger population for the Province 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 25, pp. 184-5. 

1000 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of some 20,000. To-day tlieir numbers are much reduced by 
trai)ping, poison, and the destruction of Ground-squirrels, 
their food supply, as well as by the disturbance of ploughing 
the land, for the Badger is a shy prairie animal, and is likely 
to disappear when all the open country is under cultivation. 
Professor John Macoun tells me that in 1906 Badgers were 
yet so abundant on the prairie around White Shore Lake, 40 
miles south of Battleford, Sask., that there seemed to be about 
10 inhabited dens per square mile. 

SOCIAL So far as I have seen, the Badger is a solitary animal, 

MENT leading a somewhat sordid life, minding its own business, but 
confining that business to the least elevating of pursuits. The 
British Badger has the reputation of being remarkably sociable 
and frolicsome. G. E. Blundell, of Bristol, tells me that in 
England the native Badgers have a sport which he has often 
observed. At sundown the members of the family repair by a 
well-worn pathway, to a low trunk or stump, and there play 
a sort of 'King of the Castle' game, each one trying to climb 
up, or pull the others down. They indulge in this for an hour 
at a time. It has no connection with the sex feelings, as old 
and young take part as soon as the latter are strong enough. 
The fact of there being a fixed place and apparatus is of 
special interest, and ranks this amusement with the sliding 
of the Otter. But, alas! I had seen nothing of such an 
engaging habit in our own species, and regretted that though 
such a fine animal, it was to be placed much lower on the 
scale of development than its congener, and was glad in- 
deed to find later from Paul Fontaine's account of the 
Badger' that on bright moonlight nights he had often 
watched them for hours gambolling and playing like dogs. 
Thus, as in every case, the more we learn of the animal 
the more claim it has on our sympathy and interest. To 
the casual glance the wild animal is a fierce, elusive creature, 
occupied chiefly with eating and running away. It is only 
on getting gently nearer that we realize the other half of 

' Great Northwest, 1904, p. 40. 



Badger lOOl 

its life, the side which shows love for the mate, its young, 
and the pleasant society of its own kind. 

The Badger has many sounds that it uses in expression, ixter- 
Unfortunately, only those used in battle have been recorded, nica- 
The hiss, the grunt, the growl, and the low husky snarling, ^'°^ 
which seems to show that the snarler is a little afraid of the one 
it is snarling at. As recognition marks, or signal service ap- 
paratus, the black and white face-spots are no doubt important, 
for they announce its species to all the wise world that can see; 
but there is another contrivance highly developed in the species, 
that is, the anal group of glands. Just how it is used is not 
known, because this belongs to the gentle side of the Badger's 
life, and all our observations so far have been that of the bitterly 

Little is known of the mating habits in this species. I mating 
am inclined to believe that, like all the higher mammals, it is 
monogamous, and that, as in the highest, the male, sometimes 
at least, stays with the female all summer and helps to protect 
and feed the young. 

All the evidence I have been able to gather is given here. 
Professor John Macoun tells me that in Saskatchewan, where 
Badgers still abound (1906), he commonly saw 2 adults at 
each den door during the first week of August, but never 3. 
In each case the bigger one, presumably the male, remained 
sitting head out of the hole, with its bristles up, and uttering a 
sound of menace. He saw no young. 

The following incident also goes to show that the species 
pairs and the male continues with the female all summer. It 
was related to me by Russell Brown, of Sunnyside, Wash. 
While haying late in June, 1902, his dog was attacked by two 
full-grown Badgers. He went to the rescue with a fork. On 
killing the assailants, they were found to be male and female, 
but he saw nothing of any young. 

R. W. Cowan, ranchman, tells me that near Calgary, 
Aha., during the month of September, he more than once has 

1002 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

seen 2 adult Badgers trotting along the trail together. At such 
times they are more ready to fight than to turn aside. 

All of these observations point to an all-season association 
of the pair. 

Collateral support is found in the ways of the British 
Badger, which is known to be a model husband and father. 
Although it is dangerous to rely on such oblique light, for the 
British Badger is not now even in the same genus with this, I 
cannot refrain from giving Sir Alfred E. Pease's remarks on 
the nesting of that amiable species. {Monog. Badger.) 

"He is fond of company; he is monogamous, and clings 
closely and faithfully to his own wife. With Badgers, as with 
the human race, the sexes are not precisely equal in numbers, 
and often, from the force of circumstances, a Badger has to 
remain a celibate, but he is not a bachelor by choice. He may 
become a widower, but in either case he will travel far to seek 
a partner to share his shelter and his lot. It is not altogether 
rare to find an old solitary dog Badger, who has loved and lost, 
or taken in late age to a hermit's cell; but he, as often as not, 
when he failed to secure the companionship of the gentler sex, 
has found some other male to share his home, when they live 
comfortably en garcon. 

"Nor do the married pair shun the society of their kind. 
I have often seen large Badger 'sets' almost as full of Badgers 
as a warren is of Rabbits. One evening, near my house, I 
waited an hour of midge-plagued time to watch the Badgers 
come out from a small 'set,' and was rewarded by seeing a pro- 
cession of 7 full-grown Badgers emerge from a single hole, and I 
had them all in full viev/ for something like twenty minutes. 
As this was in July, they could hardly be one family." 

It is an open question whether the hibernating Badger 
mates in spring like the hibernating Ground-squirrels, or in 
the fall like the hibernating Bear. Paul Fontaine states' posi- 
tively that "they pair in autumn, before they hibernate." 
This we know to be the case with the British Badger, so that the 
evidence is strong, though not conclusive. 

* Ibid. 

Badger 1003 

The gestation of the species is unknown; cannot be guessed gesta- 
at until we know the exact time of mating. 

The residential burrows of the males and unmated young dens 
have not been investigated. It is probable that each Badger 
makes a burrow every twenty-four hours during the summer 
while in search of food. As there is no certain way of distin- 
guishing these prospect shafts from actual residences, the labour 

Fig. 232 — Badger hole, 6 feet deep, 

Carberry. Mass., July 35.1893, 

of digging out all, in order to run the facts to earth, has hitherto 
proven too serious for the investigators. It is not by any means 
certain that the 'foot-loose' Badger does stick to any one den 
in his home-range. 

But the female has a different way of life. Early in the 
spring, accompanied, we believe, by her mate, she prepares a 
complete nest of grass in a well-drained hole, two or three feet 
below the surface, and here, in late May or perhaps early June, 
are born the young. They number 2 to 5; 3 is probably the 
usual number, 

I cannot learn that any one ever saw a Badger travelling young 
and accompanied by its young. Apparently they remain in the 
home den until big enough to dig for themselves, which may 
mean till a year old. Senator J. N. Kirchhoffer, of Brandon, 
tells me that on the Souris he once saw an old one and 2 young 
ones together at the den about the end of September. 

This creature has bartered its speed for strength to die. speed, 

. . . etc. 

A man can easily overtake it if by rare chance it is surprised 

from its home, but that does not mean that it is caught, for in 

1004 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

loose soil it can dig so fast as to escape into the ground before 
the foe can come near. It is supposed to be at home nowhere 
but underground, and I never expected to see one go aloft, so 
was much surprised one day to see a caged specimen climb 
readily to the roof of its cage by hooking its claws in the wire 
netting; and another in the Winnipeg Zoo that easily and often 
climbed a low branching tree in its enclosure. 

The Badger is a winter-sleeper. A 'seven-sleeper,' the 
country folk say. It generally appears above ground as soon 
as the snow is gone. 

In the early days of Manitoba, before the fence and the 
plough had come, the traveller saw, hourly, on the sunny 
mornings, a whitish bump on a raised mound of earth not far 
from the trail. As he approached it, the white bump might 
develop a sharp and movable point at one end, the point 
would sway in the wind, then the white thing -disappear into 
the earth, showing that the bump was simply a Badger taking 
his morning sun-bath. On the Souris Plains Badgers were 
thus seen a dozen times a day. 

They rarely go far from their holes, and when they do, 
they are much alarmed by discovery, and go shuffling about to 
each promising place in search of a road to the friendly shelter 
of mother earth. 

I overtook one once on the open plains in Arizona. He 
skurried about but could find no hole, so faced about, and as 
he made short leaps towards my companion I caught him by 
the only safe handle, his rough, strong tail. But possession 
seemed to satisfy the hunter's instinct, and once we had 
conquered him we freed him and left him in peace. 

On another occasion, in June, 1897, on the Upper Yellow- 
stone, I met a Badger waddling over the prairie. I had a 
camera with me and, meaning to get a picture, ran after him. 
To my great surprise, he came rushing towards me uttering a 
loud snarling. Fully believing in my ability to avoid his 
attack, if indeed he really meant to make one, I continued to 

Badger 1005 

run, when, just as we were within thirty feet of each other, 
he fell tail-first into a shallow badger-hole that he had not seen, 
and I fell head-first into another I had not seen. We both were 
greatly surprised, quite shocked indeed, but he recovered first. 
He scrambled out of his pitfall, ran ten feet nearer to me, 
then dived down his home-hole, towards which he had been 
making from the first. 

Those who know the Badger of Europe have little idea of 
the life of the prairie species. The former seems to live much 
like a Skunk, trotting about at night, above ground, seeking its 
food in the woods and thickets, retiring to an underground 
home to rest during the hours of daylight. But the prairie 
Badger spends the greater part of its life underground, where 
it digs, feeds, sleeps, and multiplies much like a Mole. It 
rarely comes out during the day, except to bask in the sun by 
its doorway, and then is ready to plunge below at the slight- 
est alarm. 

Deep underground, this animal is safe from violence. It 
is hopeless to dig it out, for it can burrow like a Mole; it 
succumbs to nothing but a few barrels of water sent suddenly 
after it. This shuts off^ our diver's wind, and forces it to the 
surface to breathe and meet its adversaries. On one occasion 
I ran after a Badger on the prairie, and just as I neared him he 
plunged into a hole that was but three feet deep. I seized his 
tail as he was digging it deeper and tried to haul him out, but 
he braced himself with both fore-feet and defied my best efforts. 

Water was at hand, but a couple of bucketfuls thrown in 
merely caused him to swell out his body till it plugged the hole, 
and no water whatever passed him to get near his head. A 
spade handle, however, pushed between him and the wall let 
the flood down with a sudden 'gulch,' and the Badger was 
forced to turn about and wage unequal fight. 

The Old World Badger has long been famous as a fighter, as a 
and the prairie species seems no whit behind its cousin. It is 
so strong that a man cannot pull it out of its hole if once it gets 
fairly braced. It is so protected by its thick, loose-fitting hide 

1006 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that a bull-dog may be holding it by the scruff of the neck 
without in the least shutting off the Badger's wind or preventing 
its operating with teeth and energy on any or all four quarters of 
its preoccupied assailant. Its jaws are so strong that it usually 
leaves a gash at each bite, and its courage such that it never 
surrenders, no matter how numerous or strong its assailants; 
it dies fighting to the last. A fifteen-pounder would be a large 
one, and any dog twice the weight would surely be worsted by 
the Badger. 

In my journal for 1892 I find this note: July 27. This 
morning at Carberry a Badger was pitted against four large 
dogs on the open prairie, and he beat them all off, escaping 
almost unhurt. The Badger was aggressive as soon as a dog 
came near him. He continually uttered a sort of hissing, 
also grunted like a pig. As a matter of fact, it was a blood- 
less battle consisting of little but noise. The dogs seemed 
afraid to close in. When taken back to the stable the Badger 
drank a large quantity of water. Where does he get it when 
home ? 

WINTER As late as November 4, 1884, I found a Badger active 

above ground. The fresh snow was plentifully marked with 
its tracks, showing where it had gone about sniffing at all man- 
ner of Ground-squirrels' holes, seeking those that gave token 
of inmates sleeping below. In New Mexico, this animal is 
active all the year round; but in Manitoba, as soon as the 
ground freezes, it goes below and sleeps through the winter 
without any store of food other than its fat, until, in April, it is 
again aroused to life. 

FOOD The species is carnivorous, strictly so, as much so as any 

animal is ever strictly anything. The bulk of its food is, no 
doubt. Mice and Ground-squirrels. I have often seen places 
where a Badger had ripped open the long surface burrow of 
the Striped Ground-squirrel or had sunk twenty or thirty 
prospect holes at intervals to strike the deeper burrow, and I 
have no doubt that its labours were rewarded with a meal. 

Badger 1007 

In the November of 1884, as noted above, I followed a 
Badger's tracks in the fresh snow to learn that the night before 
he had sunk a number of burrows to the depth of five or six 
feet. In each case he had reached the winter den of a Richard- 
son Ground-squirrel and doubtless had devoured the sleeper, 
for its nest lining and its grain stores were scattered about. 

Alexander Henry gives the following curious note in his 
Journal on Red River, 1799, p. 158: (Coues. ed. 1897). 

"This afternoon I saw an extraordinary race — a Badger 
in pursuit of a Skunk. I wished to see what would be the conse- 
quence, but one of my men killed both with a club before I 
thought of preventing him." 

Many of our quadrupeds are known to form curious, ap- friend- 
parently platonic, friendships with totally different creatures. 
The British Badger has frequently been found living in good- 
fellowship with a Fox, and, on several occasions, our own 
comfortable species has been accredited with a similar partner- 
ship, which shows that he is much the same all-round good 
fellow as his British cousin twice removed. The first cases 
were friendships with Coyotes and were recorded by A. H. 
Hawkins, the surveyor. 

"During the progress of my survey," he says,^ "in south- 
ern Alberta I noticed on two occasions a Badger and a Coyote 
travelling in company. The same thing was observed and 
reported by the men who did my mounding on three different 
occasions, all of which were in different localities. 

"The men reported having seen the animals travelling in 
company in Township i. Range 13, West of 4th Principal 
Meridian. The first time that I saw them together was in 
Tp. 6, R. 17, and the second time in Tp. 7, R. 17, W. 4th. 
This last time I had the best view. Seated one day eating our 
noon lunch, I noticed two animals coming towards us and drew 
the attention of my men to the fact. We remained perfectly 
quiet, so that they came within 20 to 30 feet of us before seeing 
that we were so near. The Coyote travelled ahead, and the 

' Ottawa Nat., May, 1907, p. 37. 

1008 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Badger followed along as fixst as he could, right at the heels 
of the Coyote. 

"I could see no reason nor could I explain it in any way 
satisfactory to myself, and, although I asked several people in 
the West about it, the occurrence is still a mystery to me." 

Some similar cases have been reported to me by G. A. 
Rimington, of Penrith, Eng. Several times, near Calgary, 
in 1907, he saw a Badger and a Coyote associated and travelling 
together. In these cases it seemed to be a partnership affair, 
which was probably involuntary on the part of the Badger. 
No doubt the Coyote knew very well that the Badger would 
dig out Ground-squirrels, some of which would bolt and thus 
give the Coyote a chance to share in the spoils. 

In exactly the same way the Badger is followed by hawks, 
etc., in California, as graphically described by Mary Austin in 
"The Land of Little Rain."" 

But the most remarkable case of all is a friendship between 
a Manitoba Badger and a lost boy. This was related to me by 
George Fraser, a native of Manitoba, and corroborated by his 
mother, Mrs. Fraser, of Kildonan, and Archbishop Matheson. 

In 1 87 1, a little seven-year-old boy, named Harry Service, 
wandering from his father's house at Bird's Hill, near Winnipeg, 
was lost for two weeks. When found, he was living in a den 
with a Badger. His clothes were torn so that he was nearly 
naked, and his face was all scratched. He told his parents that 
he had taken shelter in the hole during a rain-storm, and that the 
Badger came later and scratched his face. At first they fought, 
but the child was plucky and would not give up the hole. 
Later the Badger brought some food and, after another quarrel, 
allowed the child to eat some of it. In the days that followed 
the Badger brought him food several times. The beast always 
entered the den by one of the entrances not used by the child. 

When found they were on terms of friendship, and the 
child cried bitterly when taken from his savage friend. The 
boy's story, however, was not clear. He said at one time that 
° 1Q04, p. 152. 

a. Wolverine, October, 1008. 
*. Uadger, Ottober. 1008. 

c. Skunk, October 10, igo8, cliielly ri-m^iins of Krasslioppurs and wasps, but in this cxsc also the tail feathers of a small bird, Cos 

d. Fisher, .April 28. 1005. 

Badger 1009 

he lived on mud. His face, mouth, and tongue were black with 
mud and much swollen. Nevertheless, his description of the 
Badger was beyond question. He even said it had five toes 
on one foot and four on the other. 

The Badger must be considered a valuable animal, as use to 
surely as we reckon the Gophers a nuisance. The only sin 
I ever heard charged against it is that the holes it makes 
endanger the limbs of stock and the lives of horsemen on the 
plains. But this objection scarcely exists in Manitoba to- 
day, since we no longer have vast open plains. The work of 
the Badger is now confined largely to the strips of prairie that 
exist along the road allowances, where it can do but little 

The pelt is prime about October i. It is of beautiful fur 
silvery gray and the hide strong and durable, so it is much in 
use for chair rugs. In price it ranges from 75 cents to ^1.50. 

During the sixty-four years, 1842 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 81,837 skins of this species, 
an average of 1,278 for each year. The lowest was 289 in 1904 
(none at all prior to 1842); the highest, 4,000, in 1891. The 
average for the ten years, 1895 to 1905, was 2,445. 

Poland's work (p. 131) appears to show that double as 
many are taken by the other American companies, so that the 
catch of Badgers for fur may be about 7,000. 

At the London annual fur sale held at Lampson's, March, 
1906, 5,955 Badger skins were sold. The highest price reached 
was 19 shillings ($4.56) each for 27 unusually fine first-class 
skins. More usual prices were 5 shillings (^1.20) to 10 shillings 
($2.40) for first-class skins. Inferior skins sold for a shilling 
(24 cents), or even less. 


Raccoon or Coon. 

Procyon lotor (Linn.). 
(Gr. Procyon, from pro, before; cyon, a dog — the name of a star group that rises just 
before the Dog-star. The name was given to this genus by Storr in 1780, probably 
without special reason. L. lotor, a washer, on account of its habit of washing 
its food.) 

Ursus lotor LiNNAEUs, 1758, Syst. Nat., X ed., I, p. 48. 
Procyon lotor Desmarest, 1819, Diet. d'Hist. Nat., XXIX, 
p. 91. 

Type Locality. — Eastern United States. 

French Canadian, le Raton. 
Cree & Saut., Es'-see-ban. 
OjiB., Es'-see-pan. 
Yankton Sioux, fVay-atch-a. 
Ogallala Sioux, Wee'-cha. 

'Coon' is abbreviated from 'Raccoon' or 'Racoon,' which 
is the Englished form of 'Arocoun,' the Indian name of the 
creature in Virginia. 

The Raccoon Family or Procyonidce comprise middle- 
sized animals, kin of the Bears, having on each foot 5 well- 
developed toes with fixed claws, the soles naked, the hind-feet 
plantigrade; they have pointed nose and ears; tail, rather long 
and bushy, usually ringed. 

The genus Procyon (Storr, 1780) has the above char- 
acters and has the teeth: 

T 3~3 i-i 4-4 , 2-2 

Inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. = 40 

3-^ I -I 4-4 2-2 


Raccoon lOll 

In addition to the Family and generic characters unmis- size 
takable specific pecuHarities. 

An adult male killed at Springfield, near Toronto, Ont., 
June 25, 1888, was 32^ inches (826 mm.) from tip of nose to tip 
of tail-bone. The head and body from nose to ischium were 
23I inches (604 mm.); the tail-bone, lof inches (263 mm.); 
from tip of front toe to tip of outstretched hind toe, 37I inches 
(950 mm.). This was a 
very fine and fat individual. 
Hind-foot of another speci- 
men was 4^ inches (108 
mm.). A female caught at 
the same place, fifteen days 
earlier, was 3 1 ^ inches (8oi 
mm.) from tip of nose to '^n^. 

tip of tail-bone; the head '''°f'~f',fo?V^''''';r *' 

I ' Spniigncld, Out., June 25, i883. 

and body from nose to 

ischium were 21 }i inches (552 mm.); the tail-bone, 11 
inches (280 mm.). She was still in milk; her 6 teats were as 
shown in Fig. 233. 

The above male weighed 18 pounds; the female barely 10. weight 
I consider the male about average size and the female small. 
Audubon and Bachman give' 22 pounds as the ascertained 
weight of a good size male. 

In general the Coon is of a dull brownish-gray, becoming colour 
yellower on the back, strongly yellow on nape and on tail, and 
a paler gray on the belly and feet; on all the upper parts, es- 
pecially along the spine, the long hairs are black tipped, and on 
the under parts they are white tipped. On the cheek is a black 
patch that includes the eye, and joins with the narrow blackish 
stripe that runs from the nose to the dark colour on the fore- 
head. Around this the face is dull white, whitest in a band 
above each eye; the lower back part of the ear is black, which 
joins with a black patch on the neck behind the ear — the tip of 

' Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 76. 

1012 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the ear behind is whitish. The tail, beginning with the tip, has 
6 to 7 rings of very dark brown or black on a pale yellowish 
background. The under-fur is dark brownish-gray and shows 
much on the under parts; the throat also is dark brownish-gray; 
the eyes are dark; the whiskers white. The sexes are alike. 

Where seen alive, the Raccoon is readily distinguished by 
its size and its bushy tail with black rings. 

The following races are recognized: 

lotor Linnaeus, the typical form. 
elucus Bangs, a darker, shorter-haired, long-tailed race. 
mexicaniis Baird, a large, pale gray race, with long tail. 
hernandezi Wagler, a very large dark form, with very 

narrow rings on tail. 
pallidus Merriam, a medium-sized pale gray form, 

without any yellow suffusion. 
insularis Merriam, small and pale. 


RANGE Map 54 sets forth the range of this wide ranger. In the 

east and north-east it is fairly well ascertained, but must be 
greatly modified by further investigation in the south-west, 
west, and south. 

IN MANi- In primitive days the Raccoon was quite abundant along 

'^°^'^ the Upper Red River, as is attested by the Journal of A. Henry, 
the fur-trader, who, about loo years ago, wrote at Park River 
House, on Red River, 35 miles south of the Boundary. Here 
he collected annually 100 to 200 skins. Since then this animal's 
numbers have increased and decreased several times; they are 
now at a low ebb. It is still found in south-western Manitoba, 
but is exceedingly rare, although, according to Herrick,^ it 
ranges over the entire wooded parts of Minnesota. 

' Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 139. 


This map is founded chiefly on papers by Messrs. D. G. Elliot, V. Bailey, R, MacFarlane, W. H. Osgood, C. Hart Merriam, John Richardson, 
R. Kennicott, L. Adams, J. Rowley, J. A. Allen. G. S. Miller, S. F. liaird, E. A. Meams, and E. T. Seton. . . 

In its north, south, and cast, its lines are tolerably accurate, but in all the Rocky Mountain, Pacific Coast, and Mexican regions, must tie 
modified by future work. 

Four species of Raccoon are recognized: 

Procyon lolor (Linnaeus'), with its 6 races, Proctjon maynardi Bangs, 

Procyon psora Gray, with its 2 races, Procyon pygmaeus Mernam. 


1014 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

D. Nicholson, of Morden, tells me that in twenty-five years' 
residence he has seen but i Coon skins taken in Manitoba; 
both were from Pembina Valley. 

According to the Boissevam Recorder, i Coon skins 
were brought into Wooton's store in Manitou from Pembina 

Fig. 234— Paws "' Conn, left hind :mJ left fori 

Valley on March 13, 1902. C. C. Helliwell saw one that was 
killed on the Souris River some years ago and heard of several 

Apparently they are increasing again in that region, as J. S. 
Charleson writes me that in the spring of 1907, 3 Coons were 
found in a hen-house near Blyth, 13 miles south-east of Bran- 
don. One was killed and mounted for Re.x McPhee; another, 
he says, was caught in the previous winter on the Assiniboine, 

Raccoon 1015 

10 miles above Truesbank, and a number of Coon signs were 
reported along the river banks near BIyth. 

W. R. Hine mounted one taken near Winnipeg — it is now in 
possession of Sheriff Inkester — and WiUiam G. Tweddell tells 
me that he knew of one being killed in the country north of 
Shoal Lake. 

I saw a very large and dark specimen that was taken on 
the Upper Assiniboine, near Fort Ellice, about 1884. 

In September, 1904, J. J. G. Rosser, of Hudson's Bay 
Company, at Winnipegosis showed me a coon-skin taken on 
Waterhen River at the second rapids by an Indian, Francis 
Katchaway, October, 1903. The trapper did not know what 
he had caught — said it looked like a cat. None of his people 
had seen one before. This is the only one ever taken near this 
post, and is the northernmost record for the Province. Rosser 
heard of another that was killed at Valley River (Dauphin 
Lake) quite recently. 

Angus Brabant, Inspector for Hudson's Bay Company 
and former Chief Factor, saw a Raccoon taken at Pine Creek, 
60 miles north of Dauphin, Man., Lake Winnipegosis, 1890. 

"William McKirdy, of Nipigon, told me that a few years other 
ago a Raccoon was killed by some Indians near Lake Nipigon 
and brought to the Hudson's Bay Company's post. Neither 
Indians nor traders ever had seen the animal in the region 
before, and to most of the former it was entirely unknown."' 

George F. Guernsey writes me from Fort Qu' Appelle: 
"December 14, 1906. — Within the last 20 years I have known 
of 2 Raccoon being taken some 50 miles north of here, in 
Touchwood Hills, which are heavily timbered with poplar and 
birch. But they are so rare that the Indian who took one of 
them did not know what it was; there are none in the Qu' 
Appelle Valley — not enough timber, for one thing." 

A newspaper clipping recently directed my attention to a 
still farther record. On writing to the person interested, W. H. 

' Mam. Ont., Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., April, 1897, p. 41. 

1016 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Jaeger, of Edmonton, Aha., I was courteously furnished with 
particulars: A Raccoon, the first ever heard of in the district, 
was taken by an Indian about 1903, on Red Deer River, at a 
point some 75 miles south of Edmonton. 

Another, also captured by an Indian, was secured at a 
place 40 miles south of Edmonton, in February, 1905. The 
skins were brought in for sale to Thomas Hourston's store at 

C. C. Chipman, the Hudson's Bay Company Commissioner 
at Winnipeg, writes me on December 3, 1906: "There was i 
Raccoon killed in the Peace River Country about fifteen years 
ago and they did not know what it was. I never heard of any 
having been killed at Lake Winnipeg or Lake Manitoba." 

William Mclnnes, of the Geological Survey of Canada, 
examined the skin of one killed at Attawapiskat Lake (Lat. 52° 
20', Long. 87° W.) in the winter of 1893. 

These various records are spotted on the map. When 
extra-limital occurrences multiply, it is usually proof that the 
species is extending its range. 

INDIVID- We have little light on the individual range, but it seems 

RANGE much wider than might be expected from such a slow-footed 
creature. Bailey speaks^ of Coons in Texas going regularly 
half-a-mile to a mile from their dens to their hunting grounds, 
and, of course, back before dawn. Bachman tells'^ of following 
a pair through the snow, and they made a journey of about a 
mile, ending where they began. W. S. Williams, of Panther 
Creek, N. C, informs me that a pet Coon he had, escaped, and 
within a couple of days was killed while raiding a hen-roost 
5 miles from home. Obviously this one had no home. 

ENVIRON- This is a creature of woodland edges, preferably hard- 
wood; dense coniferous forests do not please it, one reason 
being that hollow trees are essential to its well-being. It does 
occasionally lodge in rocky crannies, even in bank burrows, 

* N. A. Fauna, No. 25, 1905, p. 193. 
' Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 81. 


Raccoon 1017 

but this is exceptional and imposed by the absence of more 
congenial quarters. No matter what its daytime residence is, 
its nightly prowling is always close to the water. 

Its numbers are much greater than is commonly supposed, num 


In 100 acres of hardwood bush, near Toronto, I got 3 Coons, 
and had evidence of several remaining. Yet they were con- 
sidered scarce. This woods was chiefly second growth; 
heavy timber has proportionately more Coons. Poland's Fur 
Trade Reports" show that for 40 years prior to 1891, 500,000 
to 700,000 Coon skins have been marketed each year from 
North America. As Mexican Coon fur is worthless, we can 
see by the map that the region paying this tribute without ap- 
parently suffering is about two-thirds of the United States, or 
3,000,000 square miles. I reckon that an annual drain of 25 per 
cent, is all that such a species could stand without diminishing, 
and there is evidence that the Raccoon is rather increasing. 

Furthermore, it is probable that not more than half the 
Coons killed are marketed in London as fur. Therefore, the 
low annual return of 500,000 would represent an annual kill 
of 1,000,000, and a total population of 4,000,000 in North 
America; that is, a pair of Coons to every i^ square miles of 
their range. A safe estimate, indeed, even though we have 
included vast farming regions in the Middle States, where 
the species is now exterminated. 

It is a common thing to find half-a-dozen Coons in one socia- 


hollow tree. It is a rare thing to find a solitary Coon. There- 
fore, I consider the Coon a sociable animal. But they do not 
run in bands, except as families, nor are several nests placed 
together; therefore, they are but slightly gregarious. 

During approach, its singular black-masked face; during inter- 
retreat, its yet more singular ringed tail, are label marks that nica 
proclaim to friend and foe with equal emphasis that this gray 
beast IS a Coon. 

° Fur-bearing Animals, 1892, pp. xxii-xxxiii. 


1018 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

But its voice is even more serviceable to it. The queru- 
lous ^ churr' of a captive Coon squabbling over provender is 
familiar to all. The growl and snarl of Coons in fight are well 
known, and the soft ' err-err-err' of a young Coon, begging for 
food, has been heard by all who know the Coon as a pet. But 
it has yet another note, one that has been the cause of much 
dispute. In the black woods, on still nights, I have often heard 
it, a long-drawn, tremulous 'ffhoo-oo-oo-oo.' This is the 
'whicker.' It is often passed for or confounded with the call 
of the screech owl. But I think I can tell them apart by the 
stronger and more squally quality that characterizes the sound 
of the quadruped; the bird's note is much softer and sweeter, 
as well as more often uttered. 

The ideal den of this creature is some hollow branch 
high up in a large tree that is fully exposed to the sun. But 
Coon ideals are as scarce as those of man, and next choice is any 
available hole in a standing tree or tall stub; failing this, it 
will use any hollow trunk it can find, preferably standing, but 
not to be despised when down, and it will even rest content 
with a cranny in a clifi^. So far as I can learn, it draws the 
line only at a hole in the ground. 

The den is not only the nursery, it is the year-round home 
of the family. There seems little doubt that, like some other 
species, the Coon maintains a central home-den and several 
hunting lodges scattered in convenient proximity to favourite 
and remote feeding grounds, each to be used as occasion seems 
to warrant. 

All the evidence there is goes to show that the Raccoon is a 
monogamous animal and that the male stays with the female, 
helping to some extent in the rearing of the brood. When 
the mating takes place is not known. The analogy of their 
near relations, the Bears, would fix on autumn as the nuptial 
time. Coons are undoubtedly noisier then than at any other 
time, which is a mite of proof for autumnal mating. The fact 
that the species hibernates is another indirect evidence, as 

Raccoon 1019 

winter torpor is usually associated with long gestation, since the 
days passed in torpor are scarcely counted in those operations 
of nature where high functional activity is essential; further- 
more, we may argue from this that the gestation will vary greatly 
in proportion to the length of the individual's winter sleep. 

The young are born in April or May, varying somewhat young 
with the latitude, those in the north being later; they number 
from 3 to 6, 4 being usual. 

The home-life of the Coon family is nearly ideal. I think, home- 
but am not sure, that the father continues to form one of the 
circle. During May the little ones stay home and are nour- 
ished only with milk. In late June they are one-third grown 
and begin to sit outside the den on bright days, enjoying their 
sun bath, but ready to seek the home-nest on the slightest hint 
of danger. 

A charming picture of young Coon life in Texas is supplied 
by Vernon Bailey:' "While watching for Fox-squirrels [says 
he] one morning [June 6] in the heavily timbered bot- 
toms, I heard a scratching sound from an old cypress in the 
edge of the swamp near by, followed by a loud splash. A 
young Coon, less than half grown, had fallen into the water. 
At the sound, the old Coon and 2 more young ones came out 
of a hollow some 30 feet up in the trunk and climbed down to 
near the bottom of the tree. They came down the tree slowly 
but steadily, head-first, as a squirrel would have done, with the 
hind-feet reversed and slightly divergent. 

"When the old Coon saw the young one climb out of the 
water upon the tree trunk, she turned about and ascended the 
trunk, followed by the 3 young. The one that had fallen, 
besides being very wet, was slightly hurt and climbed with 
difficulty. When half-way up, he stopped on a limb to rest and 
began whimpering and crying. 

"The mother had already reached the hole, but, on hearing 
his cries, turned about and climbed down to him. Taking a 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 25, 1905, p. 194. 

10^20 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

good hold of the back of his neck, and placing him between her 
fore-legs, so that he, too, could climb, she marched him up the 
tree and into the hollow." 

Whether the parents ever bring home food to the young 
is not known. 

In mid-June, about Toronto, 1 found the young still 

In |uly the young begin to accompany their mother, or 
possil)ly both jnirents, in nightly excursions to the edges of 
swamps and streams where they learn the rudiments of frog- 
hunting, crayhsh catching, and many other pursuits that make 
their life. 

In August — the Green-corn Moon — the mother Coon will 
lead them to the fields where grow the milk ear-rows, and they 
revel in a feast that is to them what honey is to Bears. 

A lively scene took place one mid-August night outside my 
shanty in the Adironilacks. Two Coon families had met at a 
certain delectable fishing pool, which was responsible indeed 
for my presence. Their meeting was accidental and unfortu- 
nate, if one might judge by the row that followed, for they 
squabbled, scolded, and fought for half the night. As nearly 
as could be ascertained in the gloom, there were i old ones in 
charge of one family and but i caring for the other. 

All through autumn and winter the family life continues; 

not even the mating season seems to mar their good-fellowship. 

Merriam says:" "It is unusual to find a Raccoon alone, for 

they commonly live and travel in small companies, consisting of 

the several members of a single family. They do not return to 

the same nest every morning, but often make little excursions in 

various directions, being gone several days at a time, and taking 

refuge, about daylight, in any convenient arboreal shelter. 

"In tracking Raccoons upon the crust I have sometimes 
obscr\ed a family to separate and go in different directions, 
spending the day in different trees, to come together again on 
the night following." 

' Mam. Adir., 1SS4, p. 94. 

Raccoon 1021 

So far as I have been able to determine, the young Coons 
stay with the old folks as long as the latter allow it; and these 
make their full-grown offspring welcome until their quarters 
are needed by the new family, which arrives with commendable 
regularity as soon as the late April showers and the greening 
hills proclaim that now and truly is the world astir with spring. 

The hibernation of the Coon is strictly dependent upon habits 
temperature. In the Red River Valley it lasts from mid- 
November to early March. In the latitude of New York it is 
shortened at both ends by several weeks. In the Southern 
States the species dispenses with hibernation altogether. 

The remarks of Alexander Henry on the Raccoon of the 
Upper Red River give a clear idea of their times and seasons 
in northern Minnesota. The records in his Journal are thus:* 

"Park River, September 8, 1800. On the beach, Raccoon 
tracks are plentiful. (P. 90. J 

"October 4. Caught * * * 2 Raccoons, in * * * trap. 
Caught 5 Raccoons. (P. 112.) 

"October 5. My men caught 5 Raccoons in their traps 
along the beach. (P. 112.) 

"October 6. My men caught 3 Raccoons, in traps, 
(P. 112.) 

"October 1 8. My men have caught 20 Raccoons. (P. 122.J 

"October 19. Bring in daily some Raccoons. * * * very 
fat. (P. 122.J 

"November 7. My men took great numbers of fat 
Raccoons in their traps. (P. 136. j 

"November 21. They take no more Raccoons with 
traps. These animals are lodged in hollow trees where they 
will remain like Bears until spring without any subsistence. 

(P. 1 55-) 

"November 30. * * * Some went Raccoon hunting, the 
weather being warm. They returned in the evening with 7, 
which they found in one hollow tree. The size of this tree 
was enormous, having a hollow 6 feet in diameter, the rim or 

* Journal, pub. i%97. 

1022 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

shell being 2 feet thick, incliuling the bark. Raccoon-hunting 
is common here in the winter season. The hunter examines 
every hollow tree met with, and when he sees the fresh marks 
of the claws, he makes a hole with an axe, and thus opens the 
hollow s|Kice in which he lights a fire to (ind out if there be 
any Raccoons within, as they often climb trees in the autumn, 
and, not fuiding them proper for the purpose, leave them and 
seek others. But if they be within, the smoke obliges tliem to 
ascend and put their heads out of the hole they entered. On 
observing this, the axe is applied to the tree; with the assistance 
of the fire it is soon down, ami the hunter stands ready to dis- 
patch the animals whilst they are stuiuied by the fall. But 
sometimes they are so obstinate as to remain at the bottom of 
the hole until they are suffocated or roasted to death. (P 157.) 

"March 5, 1801. My men have raised and put their 
traps in order for the spring hunt, as the Raccoons begin to 
come out of their winter cjuarters in the daytime, though they 
retire to the hollow trees at night. * * * My men begin to take 
Raccoons which are very lean." (P|)- 171-2.) 

The |)r(nluct of all this was 197 Coon skins. (P. 184.) 

Now it begins again its season of active life, although it is 
ever ready to resume its cold-sleep if the return of coUl weather 
should render it desirable. As the ground is still covered with 
snow , and the Coon does not store up food, it is hard put for a 
time, and draws freely on the reserves that are afforded by its 
fat. These are usually exhausted before Dame Nature again 
provides its daily bread, so that, as we ha\e seen, the spring 
Coon is a \cxy lean beast. 

This is strictly nocturnal if any animal e\er is; the darkest 
hours of night are its fa\ourite time for prowling, which, never- 
theless does not pre\ent enterprising reformers of the race 
occasionally setting forth on a diurnal excursion, for which they 
not uncommonly share the fate of unnumbered reformers, and 
win, without wearing, a martyr's crown. 

Although nesting and resting in trees, where it mo\es about 
with the slow caution of 'Possum aiul Bear, ratlier than the 

Raccoon 1023 

reckless agility of Marten and Squirrel, the Coon travels, hunts, 
and feeds almost exclusively on the ground. 

It may occasionally rob the nest of woodpecker, Squirrel, food 
or other tree-dweller, but such must not be considered its 
normal habit of life — by far the greatest bulk of its food is taken 
on or near the ground. 

It is quite omnivorous. Frogs, fish, flesh, fowl, eggs, 
reptiles, insects, shell-fish, fruit, nuts, grain, vegetables, and 
sweets are acceptable fare with the Coon; not equally so, but 
all welcome at all times. 

In a wild state, the summer-long main support of the Coon 
is frogs. In catching them by night it is singularly expert, and 
when the frog takes refuge in the muddy bottom, the Coon, with 
wonderfully dextrous, tactile fingers, gropes after it. Leaving 
the enterprise entirely to its paws, its eyes may scan the woods 
and shores in a vacant way, but its mind is in touch with the 
finger-tips, and the frog that escapes them must indeed be 
worthy to live and father a superior race. 

As Merriam says:'" "They overturn stones and catch 
the crayfish that lurk beneath, and also gather the fresh- 
water mussels {Unto and Anodon) that live on sandy and 
muddy bottoms. They also catch and devour the hapless fish 
that chance to get detained in any of the little pools along- 
shore, but are unable to dive and pursue their prey under 
water, like the Otter and Mink." 

Pennant describes" this animal as particularly fond of 
oysters, and says it "will watch the opening of the shell, dex- 
trously put in its paw, and tear out the contents; sometimes the 
oyster suddenly closes, catches the thief, and detains it till 
drowned by the return of the tide." 

In the Southern States its coat may change to a less sub- 
stantial style, but its appetite for all nutritious dainties is the 
same. Audubon and Bachman detail'- its watching of "the 
soft-shelled turtle, when she is about to deposit her eggs, for 
which purpose she leaves the water and, crawling on to the 

'"Main. Adir., 1884, pp. 91-2. "Arctic Zool., 1784, Vol. I, p. 70. 

" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, pp. 76-8. 

1024 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

white sand-bar, digs a hole and places them underneath the 
heated surface. Quickly does the rogue dig up the elastic 
ova, although ever so carefully covered, and appropriate them 
to his own use, notwithstanding the efforts of the luckless 
turtle to conceal them. 

"Sometimes by the margin of a pond, shrouded, or 
crouched among tall reeds and grasses, Grimalkin-like, the 
Raccoon lies still as death, waiting with patience for some ill- 
fated duck that may come within his reach. No negro on a 
plantation knows with more accuracy when the corn (maize) 
is juicy and ready for the connoisseur in roasting ears, and he 
does not require the aid of fire to improve its flavour, but at- 
tacks it more voraciously than the Squirrel or the blackbird, 
and is the last to quit the corn-field. * * * and although it gen- 
erally visits the corn-fields at night, sometimes feeds on the 
green corn during the day; we have seen it thus employed 
during the heat of summer." 

Although the frog-pond and the corn-patch supply its 
choicest foods, the Coon is not averse to a fat fowl. Some 
individuals, indeed, seem to give way to the chicken habit 
and riot in the hen-house night after night, killing first a fowl 
and then a dozen at a time, until they fall into the power of 
the barn-fowl's proper guardian. 

These, however, are abnormal individuals and are not to 
be considered representative of the race's food-habits. It is 
possible that, like most Lords of the Forest, its principal reve- 
nue is derived from Mice, which are available when frogs and 
fruit are not. 

Summing up its dietary — there is nothing in it, except 
occasional thefts of corn and fowl, to blacklist this creature 
on the farm-book; and these are so off^set by its usefulness as a 
fur-bearer and beast of the chase, that most persons are glad 
to hear that the Coon is rather increasing in America. 

WASHING The Latin name (lotor or tvasher) and German name 

{ff ash-bear) record a common habit of this animal. If near 
the water, it rarely eats a morsel of food without washing it. 

Made by driving the animal over fresh black paint then across a dean sheet of soft paper. Secured by Mrs. Grace G. Seton. 

Raccoon 1025 

This Mosaic habit seems to have arisen from its fashion of 
groping with busy nervous fingers in the mud for frogs, fish, 
or insects. Then, having secured some wrigghng prey, its 
first care, before eating, is to clear it of sand and clay, by dab- 
bling it in the open water. Taking advantage of this, many 
trappers catch Coons by setting in the mud on some favourite 
frogging point. I shall never forget the sensation I had in my 
early days when, one morning, on going to a trap set for 
Muskrat I found, firmly held in it by one paw, a huge and 
savage-looking Raccoon. 

If necessary to reach some desirable food or to escape swim- 
from an undesirable caller, the Coon will swim fearlessly and 
well, but ordinarily is not fond of water in which it cannot 
comfortably wade. 

As a runner it takes low rank. I never saw but one run- run- 
ning before the hounds in daylight, and its speed seemed 
barely half of theirs. Moreover, in many nights cooning, I 
never knew one of these animals to run more than a quarter 
of a mile before treeing. 

It is a desperate fighter. I have seen one beat off^ two fight- 
large hounds, each of which was over double his weight, and 
saw another defeat three dogs — a terrier and two hounds. A 
Bedlington terrier, a famous fighting dog in Toronto, was said 
to have reached the final pitch of war-glory when, single- 
handed, he killed a full-grown Coon whose weight was about 
the same as his own. 

The old Raccoon is sullen, dangerous, and untameable if as pets 
kept captive, but the young, if taken at an early age — that is, 
before they have begun to hunt for themselves — make, as 
Merriam says," "intelligent and interesting pets; being easily 
tamed and evincing considerable afi^ection for their master. 

"But they cannot be allowed their liberty like tame 
Skunks, because of their innate propensity for mischief. If 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 93. 

1026 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

not closely watched, they will slyly enter the house through 
some open door or window, and are liable to do considerable 
damage, for their natural curiosity prompts them to examine 
everything within reach, and anything out of reach of a 
'Coon' must be inaccessible indeed. They invariably mani- 
fest an insatiate desire to investigate the pantry shelves, 
and rarely neglect to taste every edible thing that hap- 
pens to be there. They have a special penchant for sweet- 
meats, and greedily devour preserves, honey, molasses, 
sugar, pies, and cakes; and even bread, butter, lard, milk, 
etc., are by no means disregarded. They remove the cov- 
ers from jars and pails, and uncork bottles with as much 
ease and facility, apparently as if they had been instructed 
in this art from earliest infancy. Doors that latch, as 
they do in most old country houses, are soon opened, 
even by unsophisticated Coons, and it takes them but a 
short time to acquire the method of opening knob doors. 
Their fore-paws are employed as hands, and can be put to 
almost as great a variety of uses as those of the monkey — 
which animal they further resemble in the propensity for 

SANiTA- The species has progressed but little along the paths of 


sanitation. Its dung is dropped anywhere, at any time, ex- 
cepting while in the nest. Like cow, horse, and Bear, the 
Coon can void as it walks — is, in fact, a peripatetic defecator 
— but, owing to conditions, this bovine habit is not accom- 
panied by bovine, much less equine, success. 

Audubon and Bachman tell of a tame Coon that enjoyed 
a bucket of water thus:'^ 

"After playing for a short time in the water it would 
commonly urinate in it and then upset the pail." 

TRACKS The tracks are shown in Fig. 235; the pairing of the 

front feet when at full speed agrees with the tree-climbing 
habit of the species. 

" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 79. 




Rf l^ 



03 ^ 


•■^ (S- 




<V ^ 







.C CO 

^■f- .0^' 


The two large tracks oa the right 

The series on the left was made by a larg 

The middle 

3 part of this and she 

F1G.23S— Tracks of Raccoon. 

re left front and left hind of a large individual; they are natural size. 
coon running through the snow. 
:re the creature walked when he should have stood still. 


1028 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

TR.\p- 'Cute as a Coon,' is an old adage that is supposed to refer 

to the fox-Hke cunning of the old Raccoon. My own experience 
does not bear this out. I have caught several in very obvious 
traps that a Fox would have scoffed at. Merriam says of a 
treed Coon:*^ "If the tree is too large to be easily felled, a 
trap set at its foot and baited with a bit of codfish or an ear 
of corn, is pretty sure to secure him before the next morning." 

I have several times heard of a trick by which hunters 
secure a Coon that has gone up a tree too large to be cut down 
and too dense of leafage to be searched out with torch and 
keenest eyes. If straw is handy, they make a band of it and tie 
it around the tree as high up as they can reach. Over this the 
Coon will not come; so, next morning, the hunter returns with 
rifle and picks him off out of the topmost branches. When 
no straw is at hand, a dummy made of surplus clothing is 
sometimes left, and as effectually guards the prisoner. 

A Coon travelling through the woods always runs along 
every fallen log that lies in the line of its travels. This fact is 
often taken advantage of in trapping. Two sticks are crossed 
in the middle of a log so that the creature must jump at that 
place, and a trap is hidden at each side of the jump to make sure 
of it coming or going. 

ENEMIES Man, no doubt, is its worst enemy, and yet the species 

seems to have increased in recent years; due partly, no doubt, 
to the abundant food supply furnished by the settlers' crops, 
and partly to the destruction of enemies that prey on the Coon. 
The most formidable of these, perhaps, is the Fisher. 
Reference to the article on this animal shows that the present 
species increases in the northern region as the Fisher is ex- 
terminated by the trapper. 

USES The roast Coon is the supposed proper finish of a Coon 

hunt. Young ones killed without a battle and properly 
cooked are palatable, but a tough warrior male, to whom death 
came in a long, desperate fight is not fit for human food. 

"Mam. Adir., 1S84, p. 94. 

Raccoon 1029 

The fur is the creature's chief contribution to human fur 
comfort. Haifa million skins are shipped to London in good 
years to be manufactured into overcoats, sleigh-robes, and 
motor-car wraps. For this it is particularly well adapted, 
being a deep warm fur of the coarser kind on a strong and 
durable leather. The abundance of the animal keeps the 
price low, so it has an established popularity. 

During the eighty-five years, 1821 to 1905 inclusive, the 
Hudson's Bay Company collected 167,027 skins of this species, 
an average of 1,847 ^^^ each year. The lowest was o in 1829; 
the highest, 24,783, in 1866. The average for the ten years, 
1895 to 1905, was 3,814. 

Poland's lists show that during the seventy-one years, 
1821 to 1891 inclusive, 27,138,479 skins were taken by the other 
American companies, an average of 382,091 each year. So 
that the average annual catch of Raccoon for fur is about 
384,000. The record high year was 1883, when 711,071 were 
received by the traders. 

At the London annual fur sales, held at Lampson's, 
March, 1906, the highest price paid was 26 shillings ($6.24) 
each for 34 unusually large, dark, fine skins; but this was 
exceptional. The nearest to this was 12 shillings ($2.88) each 
for 236 No. I large skins. More usual prices were 6 shillings 
(^i .44) and 7 shillings ($1 .68), and many lots of inferior quality 
were sold at eight pence (16 cents) and i shilling (24 cents) 
a skin. 


Grizzly-bear, Silver-tip, Roachback, or Montana 

Ursus horrihitis Ord. 
(L. Ursns, a bear; L. horribilis, horrible.) 

Ursiis horribilis Ord., 1 815, C-iuthr. Geog., 2nd Am. ed., 
Vol. II, pp. 291 and 300. 

Type Locality. — Montana. 

French Canai^ian, I'Ours gris on feroce. 
Cree & OjiB., Mish-e muk-wa'. 
Chipewyan, Klay'-zy. 
Ogai.I.AI.A Sioux, Mah-to' shah-kay' h<nt-ska'. 

The name 'Grizzly' or 'gray' was, according to the 
Century Dictionary, given to this Bear on account of "its 
usual colouration." The word 'grisly' (grewsome, grim, or 
terrible) was applied later. 

The Bear Family Ursida- is composed of very large, heavy, 
thickset carnivorous animals of dull colours, not spotted or 
striped. I'hey have 5 well-developed toes on each foot; their 
hind-feet are plantigrade; they have fixed claws; very short 
tails; short, rounded ears, and the true molars with broad, flat 
tuberculated crown. 

The genus Vr.uis (Linn., 1758) has the above characters, 
with colors, black, dull brown, yellowish-gray, or white, and the 
following dentition (often wanting in premolars): 

T 3-^ I-I 4-4 1 2-2 
inc. ^^— ^; can. ; prem. ; moi. = 42 

z-i •-' 4-4 3-3 

Grizzly-bear 1031 

In combination with the above Family and generic char- size 
acters, the Grizzly has very distinctive specific features of size 
and colour. 

It is greatly to be regretted that full authentic measure- 
ments of typical Grizzlies have not been put on record. At best 

Fig. 236 — Life studies of Grizzly paws. 

we can go to Lewis and Clark.' They killed a large specimen 
near Porcupine River in Montana. It measured as follows: 

Length from the nose to the extremity of the 

hind-foot 8 feet jh inches (2,630 mm.) 

Circumference near the fore-leg .... 5 " 10^ " (1,790 mm.) 

" of the neck 3 " II " (1,194 mm.) 

" of the middle of the fore-leg . I foot 11 " (584 mm.) 

Length of the talons 4f " (iii mm.) 

" But this was not the largest Bear killed by the party. 
They give an account of one which measured 9 feet [2,743 mm.] 
from the nose to the extremity of the tail, and the talons of 
another were 6| inches [159 mm.] in length." 

From various data at hand, I should say that an ordinary 
male Grizzly stood about 3I to 4 feet (1,067 ^° 1,220 mm.) at 
the shoulder, and a female, about 3 feet (914 mm.). 

The hind-foot of an ordinary adult is about 10 inches 
(254 mm.) long from heel to tip of longest claw; 9 inches 

' Guthr. Geog., Rhoads reprint, 1894, p. 300. 

1032 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

(229 mm.) would be small, and 12 inches (305 mm.) very large. 
Of course, the track is larger than the foot. 

The creature looks so big when charging over the moun- 
tainside or lying stretched at the feet of the victorious and 
excited sportsman, that all guesses at its weight, etc., have 
been absurdly high. 

I remember once watching a good-sized Grizzly walk 
past; had I guessed his height at the shoulder I should have 
said at least 4 feet( 1, 220 mm.). But I noticed that he passed 
without stooping under a certain horizontal branch and this 
I afterwards found to be but 35 inches (889 mm.) from the 

Similarly, there is no reason to believe that a true Grizzly 
ever weighed 1,500 pounds, or that any but the Californian 
Grizzly reaches 1,000 pounds; 600 pounds is more nearly the 
average weight of males, and 500 of females. Colonel W. D. 
Pickett, of Meeteetsee, Wyo., for thirty-five years one of the 
most successful Grizzly hunters in the West, says that of 40 
wild Grizzlies that he actually weighed, the heaviest went less 
than 800 pounds.^ 

In the Washington Zoo is a large Grizzly from the Yellow- 
stone Park. In September, 1894, he weighed 730 pounds, and 
has since added considerably to his bulk. 

The heaviest weight on authentic record is 1,153 pounds. 
This is given by G. O. Shields as the weight of an enormous 
Grizzly that lived eighteen years in Union Park, Chicago. 
"He was fed to suffocation by the thousands of visitors and in 
his later years grew so fat he could not walk, could only 
crawl around."^ The estimates set his weight at 2,000 pounds. 

In general, the Montana Grizzly is of a deep brown colour, 
darkening to brownish-black along the spine, on the limbs, and 
on the ears; and grizzled or frosted over with a white tipping 
of the hair on the upper parts of the body. In some individ- 

" Personal letter to G. O. Shields. 

' Recreation Magazine, August, 1899, p. 135. 

j-jg 23,_Life studies of various Grizzlies. 


1034 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

uals the tipping is so reduced that the Bear looks deep brown 
or cinnamon; in others it is so increased that the Bear at a 
distance looks dirty white, but, in all, the limbs are dark. 
Another general feature of colour is an upright bar or patch of 
dull white behind the shoulder. 

The distinctive external characters of the Grizzly's form 
are its concave facial outline (the Blackbear's is about straight), 
the maned hump on its back, over the shoulders, and the great 
size of its front claws, which are twice the length of the hind 
ones and but little curved. 

From the Blackbear group it is easily distinguished by 
these peculiarities; from the Polar-bear by the latter's white 
colour, convex profile, hairy soles, and short claws; but to 
distinguish it from the many Alaskan species of Fish-bears 
and Brown-bears, by external characters, is not at present 

The following races are recognized: 

horribilis Ord., the typical form. 

horriceus Baird. 

californicus Merriam, a very large race with little 

silver tipping. 
alascensis Merriam, a large northern race. 
phcEonyx Merriam, a large race with dark-coloured 



The original range of the Grizzly is shown on Map 
No. 55. It is now, of course, greatly restricted, especially 
in the east. The Grizzly is no longer found on the open 
plains, and in California it is nearly if not quite extinct. 
iNMANi- The claim of the Grizzly-bear to be entered on the Mani- 

toba list rests chiefly on the narrative of Alexander Henry, the 
nephew. He was an expert hunter and trapper, and close 
observer. He was, moreover, well acquainted with the Grizzly- 



(Exclusive of the Blackbear group.) 
This map is founded on records by J. Richardson, S. F. Baird, R. Bell, A. P. Low, E. VV. Nelson, J. A. Allen, C. H. Me 
J. W. Tyrcll, and many arctic voyagers. 
The following are recognized : 

Unus maritimus Phipps. The Polar or White Bear, 

Ursus mijjendorgi Merriam, Kadiak Brown-bear, 

Untis kiddcri Merriam, Kidder's 

Ursu, dalli Merriam, Dall's 

t/rsus Ja/// gvas Merriam, Peninsula " " 

Vnus culophus Merriam. Admiralty Ids. Bear, 


, Jas. H. Kidde: 

Unas k'naiensis Merriam, Kenai Ids. Bear, 
C/rsuss«itfnj/5 Merriam, Sitka 

Ursus horribilisOTd., Montana Grizzly with 5 races, 
Ursus nc/iart/aoni Swainson, Barren-ground Bear, 
Ursui phctor\ijx Merriam, Dark-clawed Grizzly. 

1036 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

bear of the Mountains, and his account, especially in view of 
the supporting testimony, must be allowed full weight. In the 
year 1800, he built a trading post on the Red River at the mouth 
of Park River in North Dakota, about thirty miles south of the 
International Boundary. The journal he kept of those times 

shows that Blackbear were extraordinarily numerous, and that 
Grizzlies were occasionally seen on Red River. In his journal 
for 1800 are these entries:* 

"October 17. * * * During my absence the hunter killed 
a large Grizzly-bear^ about a mile from the fort. He had seen 
two males and a female, but the latter escaped. My people, 
having cooked and eaten some of the flesh, were taken very ill, 
and most of them threw it up. This Bear had been wounded 
in the fore-leg some time before by an arrow, the iron head of 
which stuck fast in the bone, and was beginning to rust. 
Grizzly-bears are not numerous along Red River, but more 
abundant in the Hair Hills [Pembina Mountains]. At Lac du 
Diable [Devil's Lake], which is about 30 leagues west, they are 
very common — I am told as common as the Blackbear is here, 
and very malicious. Near that lake runs a principal branch of 
Schian [Cheyenne] River, which is partially wooded. On the 
banks of this river I am informed they are also very numerous 

* Alexander Henry Journal, 1897, P- ^^i. 

' Dr. Elliott Coues, the accomplished naturalist who edited Henry's Journal, identifies 
this as the Ursus horribilis. 

Grizzly-bear 1037 

and seldom molested by the hunters, it being the frontier of 
the Sioux, where none can hunt in safety; so there they breed 
and muhiply in security. 

"October i8. * * * My hunter plagued me for a small 
keg of liquor, having vowed, on killing the Grizzly-bear, that 
he would make a feast of rum. This is a common custom 
among the Saulteurs, when they kill any uncommon animal." 

Again, on page 145, he writes: On Cheyenne River 
"Grizzly-bears are to be seen in droves; and it may be called 
the nursery of Buffalo and Deer. It is a delightful country, 
but seldom can our Saulteurs kill a Beaver there without falling 
in with their enemies." 

Later, in his returns of fur from Lower Red River De- 
partment, 1 800-1, Henry enters:" 


From Reed River (Roseau River), Man. 52 20 4 

From Park River, Dak 125 23 2 

In the following year, though 152 Blackbear and 42 
Brown-bear appear, there was but i Grizzly taken, and that 
was brought into Portage la Prairie, Man. (P. 221.) 

In 1804-5, he records 10 Grizzlies; 4 from Hair Hills 
(Pembina Mountains), 4 from Salt River, 2 from Pembina 
River. (P. 259.) 

In the season of 1805-6, the returns show 125 Black- 
bear, 49 Brown-bear, and 4 Grizzly-bear. Of these Grizzlies, 
I was taken at Portage la Prairie and 3 at Pembina River. 
(P. 281.) As the furs collected at each post were, for business 
reasons, classed separately with great care, there was little 
chance of importations to impair the scientific value of the list. 

On August 29, 1808, Alexander Henry, writing at a point 
on the Saskatchewan some 60 miles below the Forks, that is, 
near W. Long. 104°, says:' 

"Tracks of animals are very numerous along the beach, 
including those of Bears both of the common and Grizzly 

° Ibid., p. 184. ' Ibid., p. 480. 

1038 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

This note is of special interest as marking the probable 
north-easternmost extension of the Grizzly-bear. But its range 
began to shrink with that of the Buffalo that it preyed on, or 
both retreated before the mounted riflemen, who now began to 

In Brackenridge's time (1814):*' This Bear was "not 
usually seen lower than the Mandan Village [near Bismarck, 
N. Dak.]. In the vicinity of the Roche Jaune [Yellowstone] 
and of the Little Missouri," they are said to be most numerous." 

In 1820, Richardson saw a Grizzly killed at Carlton 
House,'" on the Saskatchewan, and intimates that the species 
was well known to the Indians there, though not apparently 
farther east. He gives its range as "the Rocky Mountains and 
the plains lying to the eastward of them as far as Latitude 61°, 
and perhaps still farther north,"" and as late as 1875 Colonel 
Dodge reports the species numerous in the Black Hills. '- 

HOME- The range of the individual Grizzly varies greatly with 

local conditions. In a rugged mountainous region where food 
abounds it will not go half a dozen miles from a central point. 
In the days when it followed the Bufl^alo herds it probably 
went ten times as far, for, unlike the Blackbear, it is at home on 
the plains. But a typical Grizzly in ordinary mountain country 
to-day will ramble over a home-region at least 25 miles across. 
W. H. Wright, after exceptional experiences, says:'' "The 
Grizzly will live his life in a restricted area. He will go but a 
few miles in any direction if there is food at hand, but he will 
seek the food he wants if it is 20 miles away. A Grizzly, how- 
ever, nearly always selects a range where he will not have to 
travel very far to feed." 


In ancient days it was common to see a dozen of these 
monsters in a day's march. Old hunters say that they would 

'H. M. Brackenridge, Views of Louisiana, 1814, p. 55. 

' Probably not the present Little Missouri. 

"> F. B. A., 182Q, I, p. 25. " Ihii., p. 28. 

■'The Black Hills, 1876, p. 122. 

"World's Work, August, 1905, p. 6540. 

Fig. 239 — Grizzly poses. (From life.) 


1040 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

average that number in the spring of the year. From various 
reports it seems Hkely that in choicest ranges a Grizzly to a 
square mile was quite within the bounds of probability. 

But its numbers have dwindled with its range. It is gone 
from the open country. It is found now only in the most 
inaccessible mountains. 

In California, the greatest of these great Bears is near 
extinction. I spent a month in the High Sierra in 1897 looking 
for Grizzlies and saw only two fresh tracks in all that time — 
probably made by the same animal. In 1902, I was told by 
Dr. James R. Walker, of Pine Ridge, S. Dak., that a few Griz- 
zlies still lingered about the Black Hills. But I doubt their 
existence to-day (1908). 

The range of the species is reduced to one-quarter; its 
numbers are divided by 20. The day is even now in sight 
when the Grizzly-bear, as a wild inhabitant of the United 
States, will cease to exist. 

In British Columbia it holds out fairly well as yet. Not 
many years ago W. H. Wright saw 21 there in a single spring 

ENVIRON- The ideal home of this animal is high rolling uplands. 


where dry, open prairies are interspersed with rocky ridges 
and densely wooded thickets. Here it finds food in abundance 
as well as sunning places and shady retreats in which it can 
wallow in mud and coolness, and defy alike the over-hot sun, 
the bot, the gnat, and the relentless mosquito. 

Even in the days when it roved the wide plains it was 
usually found in the bottom-lands and places that had a 
vestige of cover rather than bold and bull-like on the level 

sociA- Notwithstanding many accounts of Bears in droves, etc., 

the Grizzly is not a sociable or gregarious animal. The 
groups of 5, 6, or 7 Bears recorded are doubtless accidental 
and temporary associations of two families. 

'< Ibid. 


Grizzly-bear 1041 

Grizzlies cough, growl, grunt, roar, and sniff, in expression inter- 
of various feelings. Dr. W. T. Hornaday, writing after years nicT'"' 
of experience among Bears in zoological collections, says:'^ ^'°^ 

"I have learned the language of our Bears sufficiently that 
whenever I hear one of them give tongue I know what he says. 
For example: In warning or threatening an enemy, the Sloth- 
bear says, 'Jch! Ach! Jchf and the Grizzly says, 
'Woof! fVoof ! Woof!' A fighting Bear says, 'y^tt'-au'-fl'u; .'' 
A baby's call for its mother is 'Row ! Row !' A Bear's distress 
call is ' Ew-wow-oo-oo-oof ! ' " 

But the Grizzly, in common with the Blackbear, has 
another means of sending tidings to others of its race, and that 
is by the use of bear-trees or sign-posts. The remarks on the 
sign-posts of the Blackbear apply equally here. So far as I 
have seen, these Bears register their call in the same way." 

Hornaday, however, writing on the subject, says:" 

"On those trees we saw where several of the rubbing 
Bears had bitten the trunk high up, tearing the bark open 
crosswise. We also found, on some, raking claw-marks across 
the bark. Charlie Smith said that the tooth-marks are always 
made by the Grizzlies and the claw-marks by Blackbears." 

The only difference I have been able to see between the 
marks of the two species is that while the Grizzly leaves 5 claw 
marks at each place, the Blackbear commonly leaves but 4, for 
the reason that its thumb is so short that the claw often misses. 

Grizzly-bears mate in midsummer. A pair of Grizzlies mating 
in the Central Park Zoo, New York, mated in July. The old 
Grizzly (Monarch) at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, and 
his wife consummated their union on June 19, 1904. 

Little is known of their marriage customs in a state of 
nature, but it is generally conceded that they are not promiscu- 
ous, that one male mates with one female, that they continue 
together for a month or more, then part for good. It is very 
doubtful whether any of the sex feeling persists after the waning 

" Language of Animals, N. Y. Sunday Magazine, June 25, 1905, p. 7. 
'" See pages 1060-2. " Camp-fires Can. Rockies, 1906, p. 159. 


1042 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of the honeymoon. The pair, if they meet again, may accept 
each other as friends, but not as mates. Whether they reunite 
on the next breeding season is utterly unknown. 

GESTA- In the first of the above-mentioned cases the gestation 

lasted a httle over 6 months, and in the second 6 months and 
4 days. This, strange to say, is a month less than in the 
Blackbear and may be modified by shorter hibernation in the 

My notes on the first are as follows : New York, January 1 7, 
1 901. The male Grizzly in the Central Park Zoo was brought 
here in 1891 ; the female in 1884. Both were full grown when 
they came. Two years ago they produced a cub. Last year 
again they mated in July, uniting many times. To-day, about 
11.20 A. M., a young one (a female) was born. (Whether 
there were others is not known.) It weighs ij pounds, 
is 8§ inches long (216 mm.) from tip of tail to end of nose. 
It is blind and apparently naked, but covered with very 
fine, short, gray hair, and is of a pale pink or flesh tint. The 
ears are low and the openings not yet visible. It squeals like 
a child when it is hungry, and is very restless, nosing about, 
falling on its back, and screaming in temper. It began to 
suck its dog foster-mother at i p. m., when i hour and 40 
minutes old. The little one had all the form of a Grizzly — the 
shape of head, the hump on shoulders, the paws, the lower 
jaw. The tail, however, was proportionally too long for the 
adult. The mother had been carrying it about in her mouth. 
It was somewhat scratched and bruised by her teeth. Of this 
I made several sketches. It died a few days later. 

The second case was in San Francisco. On June ig, 1904, 
Monarch, the old Californian Grizzly at the Golden Gate 
Park, united with a female Rocky Mountain Grizzly. On 
December 23 (6 months and 4 days later), 2 little cubs were 
born in the cage. They were kept hidden by the mother 
for several weeks. They are now (March 18) nearly 3 
months old and about a foot high at the shoulder. They 
weigh, I should think, 12 or 15 pounds, are very pretty and 

1044 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

playful. Their ground colour is gray, with dark ears, feet, and 
patch around eyes. Already they eat meat, fruit, bread, etc. 
Their mother is very careful of them. She seemed unwilling 
to let them go out of the den, but they got past her, and she 
followed. As we fed them it came on to rain very heavily and 
suddenly; at the same time a loud slam of the bars alarmed her. 
At once she raked and cuffed the two young ones under her 
body, then, straddling very wide, sheltered them from the rain 
and guided them back into the den. She often uttered a sort 
of choppy coughing sound to them. 

Sometimes the little ones put their paws through the cage 
to their father. He would sniff at the paws very loudly and 
utter a sort of short, quick " koff, koff, koff, koff." It was not a 
menace, as he offered them no harm, though he had ample 
opportunity. At any sudden alarm the old mother reared up 
on her hind-quarters to look around. 

The young commonly number 2, rarely 3, but 4 have been 
noted in one or two extraordinary cases. 

Ordinarily, they are born in the mother's winter den, 
exactly as described in the Blackbear. They are suckled all 
winter in the den, but begin to eat solid food as soon as they 
can get it; that is, after they have begun active life in the spring. 

Ordinarily, they pass the summer with their mother as sole 
guardian, but there seem to be some cases in which the father — 
that is an interested adult male — has joined the party. 

Catlin'" tells of a male and female Grizzly-bear that, ac- 
companied by the cubs, came into his camp on the Missouri 
near the Yellowstone Fork and, on being molested, attacked 
him. Evidently it was in the height of summer. Several 
instances of the kind are on record. 

It is commonly agreed that the young Grizzlies stay with 
the mother till winter, and that all den up during the coldest 
weather, but it seems uncertain whether on this, their second 
winter, mother and young lie up in the same den. 

It is probable that the Grizzly breeds but once in two 
years, unless the young are destroyed before midsummer. The 

'* Life Among the Indians, pp. 128-31. 



young are able to shift for themselves the second year and are 
supposed to breed in the third. 

At one time it was believed that the species would not 
breed in captivity, but we are better informed to-day in the 
handling of cage-animals, and the list of non-breeders grows 

Fig. 241 — Young Grizzlies, 3 months old, bom in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. The offspring of Monarch. 

less. Arthur B. Baker says:'° "A Grizzly-bear in one 
zoological garden produced, in 12 litters, 22 cubs, but only i 
was reared." 

In general, the Grizzly's habits resemble those of the habits 
Blackbear. Both are shy, but desperate fighters when cor- 
nered. Both are lovers of the twilight, but travel in full day or 
black night on occasions. They differ in this: the Blackbear 
rarely quits the woods; the Grizzly often lives permanently in 

" Smithson. Miscel. Coll., 1904, No. 1434, p. 178. 

1046 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the open country. The Blackbear is much at home in the trees, 
so are the Grizzly cubs, but adult Grizzlies do not climb. 
It is commonly supposed that they cannot, but Superintendent 
A. E. Brown, of the Philadelphia Zoo, assures me that he once 
saw a tame adult Grizzly climb a smooth telegraph-pole to the 
crosstrees. It had, however, to be greatly urged before it 
would make the attempt; and it is a fact that the wild adult 
does not climb. The hunter who succeeds in getting up a tree 
is as safe from a Grizzly as from a bull. 

FOOD Though omnivorous in food habit, the Grizzly is more 

carnivorous than the Blackbear. Its great strength enables 
it even to master the range steer as it once did the Buffalo. 
Some individuals are much more given to meat diet than others, 
and such have become veritable nuisances on the cattle-range 
near their head-quarters. On the open prairie the Grizzly is 
said to feed largely on the prairie-turnip (Psoralea esculenta) 
alternated with Ground-squirrels, Gophers, and other products 
of the soil. For procuring these, its armed feet are a perfect 
combination of crane and crow-bar, pick and shovel, rake and 

Like the elephant's trunk, their mighty force in heaving a 
huge log or boulder is only equalled by their manual dexterity 
in picking up eatable mites. I have seen a Grizzly use two 
claws to pick up small objects, exactly as a Chinaman might use 
his chopsticks. I have noticed further that it never uses two 
claws when one will better serve. 

DENNING Like its kin, the Grizzly does not den up any sooner than 

it can help; that is, it roams its range as long as it can find food. 
The males remain active longer than the females, and in 
the southern part of the range they do not den up at all. W. H. 
Wright is of the opinion, however, that in Montana the denned- 
up Grizzly does not come out until a month or six weeks after 
the Blackbear.'" 

TRAILS This Bear also has fixed pathways through the woods and 

over difficult places. These it will use for years, till they are 

* See Note 13. 

The pony ami the Crizzly. 

Grizzly-bear 1047 

deeply worn. In going up a bank or over logs, it will put its 
feet into the same tracks each time till they become a kind of 
a stairway. The bear-trails in the Bitterroot that are described 
in the Blackbear chapter were undoubtedly made in part by 
the numerous Grizzlies that came each year to hook out the 
running salmon. 

It is a remarkable fact that though all animals make and 
use trails more or less, it is only those of the lower order, such as 
rodents, that take the trouble to repair or improve their trails. 
If a tree branch falls across a Rabbit or Beaver trail, it is cut 
in two; if a twig grows up, it is nipped off. But the Bear, the 
Wapiti, and the Buffalo take no such trouble. If mere wear 
will improve their highway, it is improved, but if a tree fall 
across it or a self-rolled stone should block it, the lazy giant 
goes round the balk and strikes out a second trail. 

Those who form their idea of a Bear's speed from watching speed 
a hulking, slouching prisoner, are sure to be amazed at the real 
thing. For 50 or 100 yards a Grizzly can go as fast as a good 
horse, and in rough country it can go faster than any horse and 
keep it up indefinitely. It is well known that in the spring of 
the year the Indian ponies that have wintered out and are poor, 
very commonly become the prey of the Grizzly, who can now 
catch them on the open plain. Townsend-' tells of a wounded 
Grizzly that pursued closely a man on horseback, for half a 
mile, snapping at the horse's heels, and apparently would have 
captured the object of his wrath but for a timely volley from the 
man's comrades. 

In view of this, it will be seen how absurd it is for any man 
to think he may escape from a Grizzly by simply running. 

This species is a good swimmer, but seems less ready to swim- 


take to the water than is the Blackbear. 

The strength of a Grizzly-bear is as might be expected strength 
from its weight. 

" Nar. Joum. Rocky Mts., 1839, p. 68. 

1048 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In the Yellowstone Park, I was witness of a quarrel be- 
tween a Grizzly and a very large Blackbear (the mother of 
Johnny). The Grizzly, with a blow of his paw, hurled her 
some sixteen feet against a pine root and ended all her desire 
for martial glory. Cattlemen everywhere attest that a Grizzly 
can carry off the carcass of a steer, which means that it can, and 
does occasionally, drag it half a mile or more. Similar in- 
stances are on record where the carcass was that of a full-grown 
Buffalo. The New Mexican cowboys who described to me 
the scene which I used in the lassoing of " Monarch," said that 
on that occasion one blow of the Bear's paw disabled a horse. 
The various incidents of Grizzly strength that are used in my 
stories of Wahb and Monarch are gathered from life and 
authenticated by numberless witnesses. 

In addition to its muscular strength, the Grizzly is tenacious 
of life. It can and will fight with wounds in all non-vital parts, 
and, for the reason that its vitals are well protected, it is hard to 
kill. Nevertheless, a shot through the heart will drop it within 
a few yards, and a shot in the spine or brain will down it 
finally on the spot. But it will be seen how little chance of 
success against the Grizzly had the Indian armed with bow and 
lance, or even with musket and flintlock gun. No wonder, 
then, that a claw-necklace from a Grizzly of one's own killing 
was the outward and visible sign of valour extraordinary, and 
worn with becoming pride. This, it will be remembered, 
was one of the greatest exploits of the hero Hiawatha. He 
went to the far Westward, there he clubbed and killed the 
mighty Mishe-mokwa, and returned with the necklet trophy 
of claws. 

sANiTA- The species has not gone far in the evolution of sanitation. 

At best it keeps its den clear of excrement. In Colorado, I 
found that a certain fly propagates in this Bear's dung. The 
Grizzly is even fonder of a mud-bath than the Blackbear. Its 
wallows are found wherever the Grizzly roams. They no 
doubt offer protection from the mosquitoes and also, when hot 
weather and shedding time arrive together to produce a general 


Grizzly-bear 1049 

sense of prickly heat and discomfort, the cooling, healing mud 
of the bath furnishes a most delicious relief. 

The incidents of the sulphur bath in Wahb and the final 
scene in Death Gulch are founded on fact. Death Gulch, on 
the eastern side of Yellowstone Park, was examined by Pro- 
fessor T. A. Jagger, of the United States Geological Survey, in 
July, 1897. The deadly gas in it turned out, as was expected, 
to be carbonic dioxide. When Professor Jagger entered the 
valley, there was the body of an old silver-tipped Grizzly lying 
in the quietest corner among many bones and bleaching skele- 
tons. It had not been there many hours, and there was every 
evidence that this was the latest victim of the poisonous 

The mentality of the Grizzly is far inferior to that of dog men- 
or Wolf. But its powers of scent and hearing are so exquisite, 
and its ability to travel fast, far, silently and unseen, so great, 
that, once it has learned the danger of rashness, it shapes its life 
behaviour on lines that look like profound sagacity. There 
are, moreover, great individual variations. The stupid Griz- 
zlies are early weeded out by the hunters, and the ten-times 
sifted remnant are the wisest of the wise in their kind. 

It is common saying in the West that a Grizzly is a most 
unreliable animal. You never know what it is going to do 
next, but you may be very sure it is going to be quick about it. 

Cattle-killing Grizzlies are rare now, but undoubtedly cattle 
exist. The following instances related to me by Edward C. 
Russell, attorney, of Helena, Mont., shed interesting light on 
their habits: 

About 1880, Grizzlies were very numerous in the country 
some 60 miles south of Helena. They used to come in there 
for the berries, but would occasionally kill cattle. When a 
beef was thus killed, Russell used to sit up over it in a tree. 
The Bears used to come sniffing up the wind and when 50 
yards down from him could smell him, but when they got nearer 
the scent seemed to go over their heads. They were puzzled 


1050 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and would go back, get it again, and work up nearer, to lose it 
once more. 

One night a large Silver-tip came to the carcass. The 
watcher was ten feet up a small cotton-wood. The Bear smelt 
him and came sniffing up the wind for some time to find him, 
but each time lost the trace as he got near. Several times this 
happened. Then, in determination to find his foe, he began to 
break down the brush around. He would smash down a 
thicket with great uproar and then remain as still as death to 
see if the man was flushed; then another, and again a wait. 
Sometimes he would wait for 3 or 4 minutes without a move. 
In this way he flattened all the brush for an acre about the 
hunter and the carcass, but the night was so dark that there 
was no opportunity for a shot. 

Another time a cow was killed by a Grizzly, dragged half- 
way across the river, and then left lying in the water; 50 yards 
away was a high cut-bank covered with brush. It was not on 
the usual trail of the Bears, and as they could not climb up the 
face, Russell decided to hide there and shoot from it. On 
getting ready to go, however, he found that he had but one 
cartridge, and so gave it up. Next morning he learned that the 
Grizzly had come, but before feasting was careful to break 
down all the brush on this commanding point, so that had the 
man been there he would certainly have fallen into the power 
of the Bear. 

But the cattle-killer is vanishing just as surely as the 
bufi^alo-killing Grizzly is gone. A great shrinkage of the Big 
Bear's range is seen to-day, and a wonderful change in the 
Bear himself. All the old travellers from Lewis and Clark to 
those of forty years ago aver that the Grizzly had little fear of 
man, and ofttimes claimed and received from him the right 
of way. But we have lived to see another mind in the Range- 
king; we see in him now the exemplar of an ancient law — the 
beasts are shy in proportion to their bigness that is really in 
measure of man's eagerness to add them to his bag. The 
Mouse will let you walk up within a few yards, will even run 

1 photograph by Prof. T. A. JaCRcr, Jr., July 1S07. 

From photograph by Prof. T. .\. Jagger, Jr., July, 1897. 

Grizzly-bear 1051 

over your foot if you are still; the Moose will flee on the 
slightest intimation that man is within a mile. And the 
Grizzly, too, accepts the common creed. No longer the arro- 
gant despot of all trails and ranges, he has retreated to 
secluded fastnesses, to wild and inaccessible regions of thicket 
and swamp. He is changed in temper as in life, and the 
faintest whiff of man-scent is now enough to drive him miles 

And what is it that has made this change ? — that has 
turned the heart of the mountain terror and made him shyer 
than ever fawn or hare ? The educating force was modern guns. 
Repeating rifles have instilled the idea that man is master — 
omnipotent, merciless — therefore shun the onset they can end 
in only one way. The fallen monarch is become a fugitive 
in his own kingdom. In many parts of the country, particularly 
the south and east, his kind is extinct. In a little while he will 
have left the United States, or will continue only as a pensioner 
in the Yellowstone Park. And I, for one, would gladly see the 
total abolition of all bounty laws on the Grizzly's head. I 
should welcome a movement to prevent his extinction. His 
day and sceptre are gone; right well he knows that; he is 
harmless now, and is, moreover, a magnificent animal, whose 
extinction would be just such a loss to zoology as the destruc- 
tion of St. Peter's would be to the world of art. 


Common Blackbear, American Blackbear, or 
Cinnamon Bear. 

Ursus americanus Pallas. 
(L. Ursus, a bear; L. americanus, American.) 

Ursus americanus Pallas, 1780, Spicil. Zool. Fasc. XIV, 

P- 5- 

Type Locality. — Eastern North America. 

French Canadian, I'Ours noir, VOurs cVAmerique. 

Cree, Kus-kit-tay' Mus-kiua' (Blackbear); Sau-wis' 
Mus-kwa' (Yellow or Brown-bear). 

Saut., Mak-a-tay' Muk-zva'. 

OjIB., Mah-kay-tay' May-kiva'. 

Chipewyan, Sass. 

Yankton Sioux, Wah-conk-seach Sa'-pa. 

Ogallala Sioux, Mah-to'-wah-hay. See'-cha (Black- 
bear), Mah-to'-ho'-tah (Brown-bear). 

The Blackbear has the characteristics of the genus as set 
forth already, and is further distinguished by the short-curved 
claws on its front feet and the straight profile of the skull. 
Besides these, its peculiarities of dentition, size, and colour are 
very distinctive. 

A fair-sized and fat she Bear shot in Colorado measured 
as follows: Snout to tail-tip, 63I inches (1,613 mm-); tail, 5 
inches (127 mm.); hind-foot, 7^ inches (184 mm.); height at 
shoulders, 252 inches (648 mm.). It weighed 2272 pounds. 

A large male Cinnamon Bear killed by J. H. Cadham, 25 
miles south-east of Winnipeg, weighed 265 pounds; 200 pounds 




may be considered a medium-sized northern Blackbear; 300 
pounds a very large one. 

In Florida, however, this animal attains much greater 
size. Charles B. Cory, Director of Field Museum, tells me 

Fig. 242 — Paws of a large Blackbear; right hind and right fore. (5: 

that he killed a comparatively small Floridian female that 
weighed 350 pounds, a male, 41 1 pounds, and a large male, 
512 pounds. 

Audubon and Bachman give' the following dimensions of 
a very large specimen: 

From nose to root of tail, 6 feet 5 inches (1,957 mm.); 
height to top of shoulder, 3 feet i inch (940 mm.). 

The typical Blackbear of Eastern America is deep, glossy colour 
black everywhere, excepting the muzzle, which is more or less 
brown, and the white spot sometimes seen on the breast. As 
one nears the Mississippi, various shades of cinnamon brown 
are found, and in the Rocky Mountains fully a quarter of the 
Bears are of the Cinnamon variety. This difference of colour, 

' Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 188. 

1054 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

however, does not mean a difference of species; they are mere 
freaks or sports of the black race. A Blackbear may have 
cinnamon young this year and black the next, or even one of 
each kind in the same htter. So also a Cinnamon mother 
may give birth to either Black or Cinnamon young. 

This was very well known to the hunters one hundred 
years ago. Alexander Henry, writing his 'Journal' on Dead 
River, which flows into the Red above Winnipeg, says:^ 

"August II, 1808. Late this evening, while the Indians 
were still drinking, there arrived a party of young men who 
had been hunting en canot up Dead River; they brought 
some fresh meat, including that of a large Blackbear and her 
two cubs, one of which was brown and the other perfectly 
black. This is frequently the case. I once saw a' Black- 
bear killed early in the spring whose two cubs were taken 
alive; one of them was cinnamon and the other black. 
Both were kept at the Fort for a long time and became 
perfectly tame." 

In Manitoba, I suppose, about one in twenty Blackbears 
is a cinnamon. I saw a remarkable specimen in the collection 
of H. C. Nead, of Dauphin, a very pale straw-coloured Bear 
with chocolate-coloured face and legs; yet it was clearly of the 
Blackbear species. 

N. E. Skinner tells me that two young Bears were found 
in a den at Carberry, Man., about 1895. One of them was a 
cinnamon, the other black with brownish-gray muzzle. 

A different colour variety is the albino, or pure white 
freak. Alexander Henry thus records a case on the Red 

"October 13, 1800. Two Indians were with him, Na- 
naundeyea and Grosse Loge; they had made no hunt as yet. 
One of them a few days ago saw a full-grown Bear as white 
as snow. His gun missed fire and the Bear escaped. He 
assured me that it was not the Grizzly, but the common 

' Journal, A. Henry (1799-1814), pub. 1897, p. 449. 
'Journal, 1897, p. 118. 

iUrsus americanus.) 
Cut supplied by the U. S., Biol. Surv. from N. A. Fauna, No. 2t, p. 30. 

Blackbear 1055 

The following forms are recognized: 

americanus Pallas, the typical form. 

sornborgeri Bangs, "skull smaller, shorter, broader," 

etc. (colour unknown). 
carlottce Osgood, a large race with skull longer than 

in americanus and teeth larger and heavier, etc.; 

said to be glossy black. 
eremicus Merriam, a brown-nosed, black-furred race 

with brown under-fur, slender muzzle, and naked 

nose-pad very long. 
floriJanus Merriam, very large and wholly black. 
luteolus Griffith, a very large form with large teeth. 
altifrontalis Elliot. 
hylodromus Elliot. 
machetes Elliot. 
emmonst Dall, a brown-nosed black Bear of small 

size, frosted or silver-tipped, with white on the 

neck and body. 

To complete the list of small Bears found in North Amer- 
ica, we need add only Ursus kermodei Hornaday, a pure white 
species recently found in British Columbia. It is related to the 
Blackbear, but is a smaller form. 


The range of the species and its various races is set forth range 
in Map No. 56 with fair accuracy. On the north and west it is 
limited only by the limit of trees. On the south it will doubtless 
be found farther than I have yet been able to trace it. 

In Manitoba it is of general distribution, but most plentiful 
in the poplar belt from Pembina to Pelly. 

How are we to form any idea of the primitive and present abun- 
Blackbear population ? The material at hand is far from 
satisfactory, but such as it is I give it. 

1056 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Hearne says' that Blackbears were "so numerous in the 
country between York Fort and Cumberland House that in 
[June] 1774 I saw 11 killed in the course of one day's journey." 

As many as 30 Bears have been killed in one year in Lewis 
County, N. Y., about 300 square miles (according to Merriam^ ), 
and the inference is that this was unusually high — moreover, 
we know now that it was too much for their numbers to stand. 

I reckon that an animal breeding so slowly as the Bear 
could not stand a greater drain by man than 10 per cent, per 
annum, therefore Lewis County must have had a Bear pop- 
ulation of considerably less than 300. Yet this was considered 
an abundance. 

Throughout the last quarter of the nineteenth century 
the Hudson's Bay Company exported about 7,000 bear-skins 
each year, and the other fur companies about the same, an 
aggregate of 14,000 bear-skins. But we know that thousands 
are killed when the hides are not worth shipping, and half of 
those taken are used or misused by the natives, therefore 30,000 
will more nearly represent the annual kill on an area of about 
5,000,000 square miles. As during the time cited the supply 
has, apparently, not dwindled, it implies at least 300,000 Bears, 
one to every 16 square miles. 

This I suspect is very near the truth to-day, although 
there are reasons for believing that in ancient times they were 
more numerous. 

FLucTu- A study of the fur returns shows that the Bear population 

rises and falls as does that of most species. Roderick Mac- 
Farlane calls my attention to this, but cannot satisfy himself of 
the reason. He mentions, to cast doubt on, epidemics and 
migration, then adds:° 

"There are other circumstances also, such as an un- 
favourable season for breeding, a scarcity of the required food, 
and the destruction by fire of extensive areas of forest, which 
would, of course, more or less affect the abundance of these 

•Journey, 1795, p. 370. ° Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 103. 

° In personal letter. 


This map is founded cliieflv on papers bv Messrs. E. W.'Nclson, R. MicFarlane, R. Bell, S. Heame, J. Fannin, C. H. Townsend, V. Bailey, 
O. Bangs, W. T. Homaday, E. A. Preble, W. H. Osgood, C. Hart Merriam, E. T. Seton. 

It is fairly correct, except on the south, where further investigations must greatly modify it. 

The spots in Te,^as and New Mexico are V. Bailey's records. The record in Costa Rica is by Geo. K. Cherrie. 

The following are recognized : 

C/rsus americanus Pallas, in 3 forms, Unas car/oWtp Osgood, 

l/rsus luleolus Griffith, t/rsus hylodromm Elliot, 

l/rjus JloriJanus Merriam, Ursus machetes Elliot, 

Unu3 emmomi (Dall.), Ursus allifrontalis EUlot. 



1058 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and other species of animals in certain localities. A very 
lingering spring, for instance, would compel Bears to leave 
their winter 'washes'' while snow was still on the ground, and 
thus enable the Indians to track and kill more than would 
otherwise be possible." 
HOME- The individual Bear is a wide ranger. Mittigwab, 

Indian guide of Mattawa, tells me that he several times fol- 
lowed a big Bear on a round of 15 miles from its home. I find 
it the opinion of trappers in general that adult Bears when foot- 
loose will range about this distance. A mother Bear, with very 
young cubs, is, of course, more of a stay-at-home. 

MTGRA- The hunters generally agree that the Blackbear migrates. 

Bachman, speaking apparently for the Carolinas, says:' "In 
hard winters [it] is found to move southerly in considerable 
numbers, although not in company." 

It is a common experience to find Blackbears suddenly 
numerous where a few months before they were rare, but what 
the nature and extent of this migration is, or whether regular in 
time or direction, I have not yet been able to determine. 

All animals have a tendency to form beaten roads or 
trails in their home-region — this trail to the water, that to a 
favourite feeding ground, etc. The heavier the animal the 
more marked the trail becomes. The pathway of a Ground- 
squirrel through the prairie grass may be nearly invisible to us, 
but the pathways of Buffalo and Wapiti are, as we have seen, 
open and well-worn highways that serve mankind as they serve 
the beast that made them. 

The present species is no exception to the rule. In all 
parts of the country where Bears are numerous they have 
well-placed, well-worn pathways, which are adhered to by the 
race with precision that justifies the pioneer Bears which first 
searched out and blazed them as the best and safest roads 
from this to that inviting land of promise. 

' C/. Beaver, p. 460, foot-note. 

» Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 196. 

Blackbear 1059 

There is abundance of testimony for this. L. Allen says:° 
"I have noticed that Bears are methodical in their habits, 
always following their own trail until their tracks are deep 
depressions in the ground." 

After telling of a long hunt through the snow after three 
Bears, C. Wasgatt adds:'" "All this time the Bears had 
walked in the track made by the leader." 

In detailing the methods of a successful Bear trapper, J. B. 
Burnham says :" " Bear-trails in places are well-defined paths. 
* * * In passing over these trails the Bears step in each other's 
foot-prints, and if one Bear fifty years ago crossed a log at a 
certain spot, every Bear that followed is morally certain to have 
chosen the same place. Moreover, they never deviate from 
the exact line of their trail if it is in any way possible to avoid 
leaving it. Knowing these facts, Guy never baits his traps. In 
setting them he has two considerations to keep in mind— first, 
placing the trap where a man will not set his foot in it, and, 
second, where a Bear will. 

"On the Twin Pond runway he found a spot where a 
small spruce tree had grown up directly in the Bear's path. 
A man would step to one side to pass this if he happened to 
be following the Bear's route, but the Bears themselves, on 
account of their conservatism, preferred to go under the low 
reaching boughs." 

To this I can add my own corroborative experience in 
the Rocky Mountains. Where the Bears abound, the whole 
country is laid out in trails that are the outcome of necessity 
in a rough country, and knowledge of the best sources of sup- 
plies. They differ from human trails only in that the Bear 
makes no eff^ort to improve the road; it merely selects the best 
available. In this particular many rodents are in advance of 
their betters. 

In some regions where I have camped — the Bitterroots, 
for example — where the forests on the bottom lands are par- 

° Recreation Magazine, April, 1900, p. 305. 
'" Maine Sportsman, October, 1900, p. 12. 
" Forest and Stream, January 7, 1899, p. 3. 

1000 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ticularly dense, and the bear-trails are exceedingly numerous; 
not only are they the best routes, they are the only possible 
routes. If you are in search of the things those Bears sought — 
berries, fish, water, or pleasant open hillsides, breeze-swept of 
flies — your part of wisdom is to follow the bear-trail. It was 
made during generations of search for these same joys of 
life, by those who were past masters of the road and had 
sought out all the most delectable spots in the hills. 

The bear-trail differs from the wapiti-trail in several 
ways: first, it is deficient in head-room, unpleasantly low for a 
man; second, it always runs alorjg a fallen trunk, if such be 
in the line; third, it crosses a stream by a log in preference to 
a ford. 

It is well to remember further that in a bear-trail there is 
always danger of a bear-trap. 

sociA- The Blackbear is essentially a solitary animal. Occasion- 


ally a number of them have been seen together, but these 
gatherings were either for the purpose of mating or were a 
family of grown-up young ones with their mother. Nine out 
of ten grown-up Bears will be found leading solitary lives. 

INTER- Xhe Blackbear has a long list of vocal sounds to express 

NicA- his feelings to others of his kind. Besides the growl of anger 
and loud cough of menace, they have whining calls and snifl^s 
of many sorts, also a number of bawls expressing rage or pain. 
But a still more curious outburst of intercommunication is 
recopded in the following extract from Audubon and Bachman:'- 
"At one season the Bear may be seen examining the lower 
part of the trunk of a tree for several minutes with much 
attention, at the same time looking around and snuflmg the air. 
It then rises on its hind-legs, approaches the trunk, embraces 
it with the fore-legs, and scratches the bark with its teeth and 
claws for several minutes in continuance. Its jaws clash against 
each other until a mass of foam runs down on both sides of the 
mouth. After this it continues its rambles." 

'^•\ud. & Bach., Quad. N. .\., Vol. Ill, p. 189. 


Blackbear 1061 

In this connection, Merriam says:*' "In traversing un- 
frequented portions of the [Adirondack] wilderness one occa- 
sionally meets with a tree whose bark has been scratched and 
torn at some little height from the ground, in a manner that 
cannot fail to excite his attention and surprise. This is the 
work of the Bear, but the object of it is not known. Hunters 
claim that whenever a Bear passes one of these trees he stops, 
stands on his hind-legs, and gnaws and scratches it before 
resuming his journey. The only account of the strange pro- 
ceeding that I have seen is given by Audubon and Bachman." 

But the fact is widely known among hunters, as the fol- 
lowing extracts show: 

"Why [says L. Allen **] do Bears leave their teeth marks 
across a tree or a sapling, as high as they can reach, standing 
on hind-legs ? The highest marks are always freshest. Is it 
the same Bear that makes the higher mark, to see how much 
he has grown, or another Bear who can go him that much 

" Bears bite trees all through the summer. I think they 
do that to see who is the tallest one. Only he Bears bite trees. 
They bite them along their roads, and the one that makes the 
tallest marks bosses the road. After you kill the big one you 
don't see another he Bear for a long time on that road. She 
Bears pass any time."''' 

"In the running season, which is at its height in June, the 
Bears blaze it [the bear-trail] by biting trees, each leaving his 
mark as high up as he can reach."'" 

Other Bear-trees are described in the "Biological Survey 
of Texas," by Vernon Bailey, who writes:" "Near one of the 
trails in the head of Dog Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains 
a Douglas spruce a foot in diameter had served for many years 
as a gnawing tree, while further up the gulch a larger yellow 
pine was well blazed and deeply scarred by many old and a 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 101-2. 

" L. Allen, East Wareham, Mass., Recreation Magazine, April, 1900, p. 305. 

" J. B. Bumham, Forest and Stream, March 18, 1899, p. 208. 

'" J. B. Bumham, Forest and Stream, January 7, 1899, p. 3. 

" N. A. Fauna, No. 25, 1905, p. 188. 

1062 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

few new gashes of powerful teeth. In the Davis Mountains, 
on the ridge just north of Livermore, a yellow pine a foot and a 
half through has served as a bear-register for apparently ten 
or twenty years. It was deeply scarred on all sides, from 4 to 
6 feet from the ground, but on one side, from 5 to 6 feet up, the 
bark had long been cut away, and the dry weathered wood was 
splintered and gashed with deep grooves of various ages. Two 
fresh sets of tooth-prints showed on opposite sides of the tree 
near the top of the ring, and one little Bear had lately tried his 
teeth in the green bark about 4 feet from the ground. At the 
head of a gulch on the east side of Limpia Creek stood another 
big yellow pine that had been similarly treated, and on it, as on 
the others, the upper limit of reach was about 6 feet from the 
ground. Apparently the Bear at each visit to one of these 
register trees had given but a single bite, leaving the marks of 
an opposing pair of canines." 

Finally, I can add my own testimony. I have seen many, 
yes hundreds, of these bear-trees, chiefly in the Rocky Moun- 
tains. They are always by some well-worn pathway or trail 
of the Bears, and are made and used by Bears of all species. 

What is their meaning and purpose ? For it is very cer- 
tain that such a remarkable and universal Bear habit must have 
some good object. 

I think there can be no doubt, as I have elsewhere and 
years ago said in print, that these are Bear 'sign-boards,' 
methods of communicating certain information to the Bears. 
They answer, I believe firmly, the same purpose as the urinary 
signal posts of dogs, Wolves, and P'oxes. 

A creature with such exquisite power of smell as a Bear 
has no difficulty in reading at once, by touch and taint on the 
register trunk, that here there has recently been a Bear of such 
sex and species, a personal friend or foe, as the case may be — 
and the trail shows that he went in such a direction; by follow- 
ing that trail he can overtake that Bear, or, if he prefers it, he 
can expend his sudden outburst of feeling on the offending but 
defenceless trunk. 



Colorado, looi. 

From photoKr.iph hy Mrs. Grace T,. Seton. 

\^■iIsQn Flattops, Colorado, igai. 

Colorado, igoi. 

Blackbear 1063 

The claw-marks made by a Grizzly differ from those of a 
Blackbear, first by their size and second by being clearly 5 in 
number, while the latter often leave but 4. This is due to the 
shortness of the Blackbear's thumb and claw. In the Rockies 
the aspen is most frequently used as a bear-register, and it is 
singularly well adapted for records, as its smooth bark never 
loses its scars. The claw-marks of the Bear may grow out of 
pine or cotton-wood, but once in the aspen bark they stay there 
for life. Thus the bark of a growing aspen car- 
ries a record of all that tree's vicissitudes for 
those who can read. Bear claw-marks, frost- 
crack, woodpecker borings, insect ravages, horn 
thrusts from Wapiti, Squirrel gnawings on the mere 
expansions and sutures of growth, are all there, 
in plain and legible sight (Plates XCIII-XCVI). 

Deep marks such as claw-wounds may even 
get stronger as years go by. I know of a singular 
case — a Blackbear climbed an aspen some twenty p,^ 243-Quakmg 
years before I saw it — there was the record tt^^^cZf^oZ 
plainly to be seen, but the claw-marks, at first ?i inche°s long'''^ 
deep pits, had filled up as level black scars, and 
at length became ever-lengthening bumps, till now each is pro- 
longed into black claw-like warts i^ inches long (see Fig. 243). 

In addition to the claw- and teeth-marks, it is common to 
see the bear-tree more or less plastered with mud in which is 
Bear hair. This was left by some Bear rubbing his back and 
marking his height after he had been wallowing in the mud. 
Some observers think that the registers are used only in the 
running season, but I have reason to believe that in a less degree 
they serve the year round. 

The sum of evidence shows that in the latitude of the mating 
Northern States and southern Canada the mating season of 
the Blackbear is early June; though in some cases it may be 
deferred as late as the first week of July. 

But little is known of the details. According to some 
hunters, the males rush along the bear-trails, stopping at every 

1064 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

bear-tree to get the latest news — there to learn what Bear has 
gone by, whether fighting males or unmated females — add 
their own record, then hurry along the most promising line, to 
meet, perhaps, a dozen other Bears assembled in some well- 
known, quiet haunt, where, with much threatening and occa- 
sional combat, the sexes are paired — one male to one female. 
The 'happy couple' set off alone on the 'honeymoon' of a 
week or more, the female leading the way, the male following, 
but pausing at times to glance back and hurl, if need be, a 
rumbling defiance to any other of his sex that seems disposed 
to follow or dispute his claims. 

But the love-bond weakens with the love-moon's waning. 
So far as known, they part in July, to go their separate ways, 
and if by chance they meet again that year, it is as strangers or 
possible enemies. 

BEAR Throughout the rest of the summer and autumn their 

AGE energies are devoted to getting fat. The Woodmouse and the 
Squirrel store up hordes of choicest food in holes and caves, 
the Bear and the Woodchuck store it up in their own skins. 
Autumn with its plentiful nuts, in addition to many other foods, 
affords the opportunity — and the Bears lose not a minute. 
Night and day they work, their stomachs are distended to the 
full, but amazingly good digestion waits on boundless, unbridled 
appetite, and the Bear grows daily rounder. 

Fur is a wonderful protection from the cold, fat is as good. 
The Bear has four inches of each when winter comes; little it 
heeds the storm. And yet this, of all the big forest beasts, the 
best protected, is the only one to shun the battle with winter 
and seek a safe and sheltered den, there to sink into the sleep 
that lasts till spring. 
WINTER- The winter-denning of the Adirondack Bears was studied 

DENNING 1 PA /^ T I l\ /r • i 

by Ur. L. Mart IVlerriam, who says: 

"The exact period when the event takes place is deter- 
mined by the food-supply and the severity of the season. If 
the beechnut crop has been a failure and deep snows come 

" Mam. .\dir., 1884, p. 97. 

Blackbear 1065 

early, they generally den near the commencement of winter. 
If, on the contrary, there has been a good yield of mast and the 
winter is a mild one (and it is a fact that, with us, good beech- 
nut years are commonly followed by open winters), the males 
prowl about nearly, or quite, all winter, and the females only 
den a short time before the period of bringing forth their 
young. Indeed, it can be set down as a rule that so long as a 
male Bear can find enough to eat he will not den, he the weather 
never so severe; '" for it is evident that he does not den to es- 
cape either the low temperature or the deep snows, but to thus 
bridge over a period when, if active, he would be unable to 
procure sufficient food. And the female, under similar cir- 
cumstances, remains out till the maternal impulse prompts her 
to seek a shelter for her prospective offspring; and in this 
wilderness they have been found travelling as late as the middle 
of January." 

Quite in accordance with this is the fact that menagerie 
Bears, sure of their food, almost never go into a true winter 

A tame but free Blackbear, kept on the Red River by 
Alexander Henry in 1804, began to prepare its winter den as 
early as November 13.'" 

I have seen one or two Bear dens and have heard many 
described by the hunters. They vary from a deep, snug, 
sheltered natural cave in the rocks, to a hollow tree or a hole 
under an upturned root. Sometimes the Bear digs a den in 
the level ground, as I once saw in Manitoba, and sometimes it 
makes a bed under a windfall of logs and brush, or in a dense 
thicket. But wherever chosen, it is sure to be a dry place 
where the snow will gather and lie deep all winter. 

Great variety in the amount of lining is observable. Ac- 
cording to Merriam :-' " The amount of labour bestowed upon 
it depends upon the length of time the Bear expects to hiber- 
nate. If the prospects point towards a severe winter, and there 
is a scarcity of food, they den early and take pains to make a 

" Italics, mine.— E. T. S. '" Journal, 1897, p. 253. 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 97-8. 

10G6 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

comfortable nest; but when they stay out late and then den in 
a hurry, they do not take the trouble to fix up their nests at all. 
At such times they simply crawl into any convenient shelter 
without gathering so much as a bunch of moss to soften their 
bed. Snow completes the covering, and as their breath con- 
denses and freezes into it, an icy wall begins to form, and 
increases in thickness and extent, day by day, till they are soon 
unable to escape, even if they would, and are obliged to wait in 
this icy cell till liberated by the sun in April or May." 

Nevertheless, it seems that the Bear does not truly torpify 
in hibernation. 

It is remarkable that no one yet has found two adult 
Blackbears in one den. Mother and half-grown cubs have 
been taken in the same winter quarters, and, of course, the 
mother with the new-born cubs is the regular thing, but never 
two old ones together, a fact that speaks for the unsociability 
of the species. 

BREED- The breeding of Blackbears was for long shrouded in 


It was formerly believed that Bears would not breed in 
captivity, but modern methods and care have disproved this. 
We now have very full data on the breeding of captive Black- 
bears, and many of the mysteries have been dispelled. 

The fullest history of a breeding pair, so far as I know, is 
that by Arthur B. Baker. It is a complete record" of a pair 
of Blackbears from their first to their fifteenth year. The 
male was captured as a cub in Central Michigan, July, 1888, 
and the female, of the same age, was taken about the same 
time on the south shore of Lake Superior. They were kept 
captive at R. H. Lodge's Park, Cuyahoga Falls, near Akron, 

The first litter was born when the parents were 4 years 
old, that is, the union took place when the old ones were 
3^, and this is probably the age at which normally they begin 

"A notable success in the breeding of Blackbears by Arthur B. Baker, Smithsonian 
Misc. Coll., Vol. 45, No. 1434, pp. 175-9. January 7, 1904, Washington, D. C. 



to reproduce; though it is possible that the female is ready a 
year earlier. 

The period of gestation is about seven months. 


The young are born in the latter half of January, while 
the mother is sealed up in her winter den, and — being far from 
torpid — very well able to devote all her time to the offspring, the 
case recalling that of the great 
Indian hornbill, in which the male ji 

bird seals up the female in the .y 

nest with the eggs, to insure her t 

unremitting attention; only in ._ > 
the case of the she Bear the relin- / .^^ 
quishment of the world is volun- 
tary and complete, and lasts for 
several months, during which she 
neither eats nor drinks, and is yet 
in full possession of all her appe- 
tites, powers, and faculties. 

It was long stated and be- 
lieved among trappers and hunt- 
ers that no man ever yet killed 
a pregnant Bear. The fact is that 
the embryos are so small that no 
one, but an expert anatomist, 
could find them; even up to the 
time when they are born they are surprisingly small, as well as 
naked, and rather shapeless. They are much less in proportion 
than the young of any other mammal outside of the marsupials. 


Fig. 244 — Mastology of Blackbear 9 . 

Great Slave River, June 15, 1907. 

At birth they are about 8 inches long and weigh from 9 to size 
12 ounces, that is about 1-200 to 1-250 of the mother's weight, 
while a young Deer is 1-30, a young dog 1-25, the human being 
1-20, and the young Porcupine 1-15 of the weight of the 
mother. A new-born Porcupine is, in fact, as Merriam points 
out, actually larger and heavier than a new-born Blackbear. 

1068 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

NUMBER The cubs are usually 2 in number; occasionally there is 

but I, especially if it be the mother's first litter; 3 are common, 
and 4 have been recorded several times. 

The Lodge record above referred to runs thus; 

1892, Jan. 23. One male cub, found dead. 

1893, Jan. 24. Two males and one female. 

1894, No cubs born, owing to young of previ- 
ous year having run with mother 
throughout the summer. 

1895, Jan. 23. One male and one female. 

1896, Jan. 24. Two males and one female. 

1897, One male (exact date of birth not no- 

ticed, but between January 21 and 

1898, Jan. 24. One male and one female. 

1899, Jan. 27. Three males. 

1900, No cubs born, as young of previous year 

had run with the mother during the 

1901, Jan. 26. Two males and one female. 

1902, No cubs born. 

1903, Jan. 21. Two males and one female. 

This valuable record proves, among other interesting things, 
that the wild mother Bear breeds only every other year, unless 
she has the misfortune to lose her family early in the season. 

At birth the cub is blind and is covered with a fine, close 
dark hair, so thin that it is practically naked. 

In all cases observed the mother has hovered and brooded 
over the young for six or eight weeks, covering them as anx- 
iously as though a single breath of cold air would be their 
certain and sudden death, as doubtless it might under their 
natural conditions in certain parts of the range. 

A litter of young Blackbears was born in the Brooklyn 
Zoo in 1899, and the keeper, Edward Walsh, wrote:" "The 

^ Forest and Stream, Fcbruan,- 4, iSgg, p. 84. 

= I K 

Blackbear 1069 

mother seems to spend most of her time suckhng them, and is 
very solicitous for their comfort. The cubs have a habit of 
whining Hke puppy dogs, especially when by any chance they 
are crowded away from their dinner. Their mother licks 
them and fondles them with her paws and is as proud of them 
and jealous of interference as any human mother." 

Frank J. Thompson, whose account of the Blackbears 
bred in the Cincinnati Zoo is the earliest that I knew of, gives 
the following interesting details of their development:-^ 

" In about ten days their coats began to show and were of a 
grayish tint, which gradually passed through the various shades 
until they became a brownish-black. It was just 40 days 
before the first one's eyes opened, and 2 days later the second 
followed suit. From that time forward I watched very closely 
to ascertain the exact time that would elapse before the young 
ones would leave the nest, and on the seventy-first day after 
birth, when the mother, as was her habit, came to the grating 
to be fed, one of the youngsters left the nest and followed her. 
So soon as she found it out she immediately drew it gently 
back, and, on its second attempt, she cuffed it soundly, which 
put a stop to its wandering propensity. 

"After a few days she allowed them to wander about at 
will, provided no one was immediately in front of the den, but 
so soon as a visitor put in an appearance, they were driven back 
into the nest, and not allowed to emerge until the strangers were 
out of sight. For some time she always suckled them in one 
position, lying over and completely covering them by stretching 
flat on her belly with her legs drawn up under her and her head 
tucked down between her front paws. As they grew older and 
began to run about she would sit on her haunches, lazily lean 
back against the wall, take a cub on each fore-arm, and hold 
them up to her breast until they were satisfied. They soon 
became expert climbers, taking advantage of the slightest 
inequalities of the stone walls and the cracks between the 
heavy oaken planks to reach the ceiling of the den on three 
sides, while the grating in front served capitally for their sky- 

" Forest and Stream, September 4, 1879, p. 605. 

1070 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

larking. Occasionally they would have a regular sparring 
bout, standing erect, feinting, countering, and making use of 
many of the tricks of old votaries of the prize-ring. These 
frolics would generally end in a clinch fall, and a regular rough- 
and-tumble fight, when the mother would abruptly put a stop to 
it by suddenly knocking both of the contestants completely out 
of time. In fact, as they grew apace, the parental visitations in- 
creased so rapidly I began to fear she would put an end to my 
Bear investigations by chastising the lives out of them, but of 
late she has slackened in her attentions, and I am in hopes 
of following the growth of Ursus americanus from babyhood 
to adolescence." 

This determination to bring the young up right, no matter 
how much spanking is needed, is common to most mother 
Bears, but is very variable individually. I have known an old 
Bear to punish her young one severely merely because she, 
herself, had at that time lost her head in a sudden alarm and 
behaved foolishly. We look not in vain among our own kind 
for parallel cases. 

When spring comes with force, in the woods it melts the 
ice and frees the icebound mother Bear. If the weather is at 
all settled, and the ground partly clear of snow, she sets forth 
on her travels in search of food, the little ones stringing behind 
her like a lot of little pigs. And now they say good-by to the 
old den. Thenceforth the mother sleeps where and whenso- 
ever she is sleepy — and the little ones slumber cuddled in her 
arms, and more or less beneath her body. 

The old Bear usually comes out fat in the spring, but the 
scarcity of food and the drain of the thriving young family soon 
reduce her stored-up supplies. And a May Bear is always a 
lean Bear. 

The cubs learn to eat solid food as soon as the bare ground 
makes it obtainable. 

The mother's care of them and their faith in her at this 
time are ideal, and all pictures of it that have been put on record 
have a human character that is sometimes exceedingly touching. 

Blackbear 1071 

A Chicago traveller, whose identity I cannot learn, re- 
lated the following to a reporter for the Record-Herald, August, 
1901 : 

"When I was in Michigan a few weeks ago I had just this 
experience. I was passing through Harmon City, which is a 
pretty wild sort of country. A couple of men from the village 
were doing some work on the outskirts when they caught sight 
of Bear tracks. They followed for a while and then set a 
heavy trap. Later they returned, and they had a Bear, sure 
enough. She was a large brute with dumb, beseeching eyes, 
from which the tears rolled as they might have rolled from 
a human being. I went with others and was a witness of the 
tragedy. The men simply shot her to death as she lay there 
with her right fore-paw held in that awful grip of steel. 

"Then the men waited around until the old Bear, her 
husband, came in sight. He wasn't trapped, but he was 
killed just as expeditiously. The poor beasts had no show. 
But the most pathetic sight, to me, was the three little cubs 
which had followed their mother to the scene of her death, and 
which whimpered like sorrowful babies over the killing of their 

"When the big Bears were killed one of the little chaps, 
about the size of a small shepherd dog, climbed to the branch 
of a tree on which their bodies were suspended and looked 
down in wonder at the still, dead faces. Another little Bear 
sniffed feebly at the swaying body of his mother, while the 
third put his paws, trustingly and pathetically, upon the knees 
of one of the men whose rifles had done the work. I'm not 
much of a sentimentalist, but those three little orphan Bears 
kept me from talking out loud for half an hour." 

Notwithstanding her courage and strength in their defence, 
and her cleverness on their behalf, the mother Bear is some- 
times separated from one or more of her cubs; the young ones 
are lost in the woods. A case of the kind is thus recorded by 
Dr. Merriam:" 

"Mam. Adir., 1884, p. loi. 

1072 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"While hunting, June lo, 1878, Dr. C. L. Bagg and the 
writer followed the old trail from Fourth Lake across Eagle 
Creek in the direction of John's Lake. In exploring a hard- 
wood ridge a little to the north of the regular course, we were 
suddenly surprised by a loud and peculiar cry with which we 
were both unacquainted. It came from the direction of a 
dense balsam swamp below, and somewhat resembled the 
squealing of a pig, while at the same time it suggested the noise 
made by the Great Blue Heron when on its nesting grounds. 
As the cry was repeated. Dr. Bagg imitated it, and suc- 
ceeded so well that we soon perceived it to be coming nearer. 
Fearing that it might change its course, I ran down the hill, 
and soon saw a dark-coloured animal, about the size of a 
Raccoon, emerge from the swamp and jump upon a log, 
rushing headlong in the direction towards Dr. Bagg, and 
squealing at brief intervals as if in great distress. Bringing my 
gun (loaded only with No. 4 shot) hastily to my shoulder, I 
fired, and the report was followed by a shriek of pain and 
plaintive baby-like sobbing cry that lasted for nearly a minute. 
On reaching the spot the animal was found to be a cub Bear, 
and was then quite dead, one of the shot having passed through 
both ventricles of the heart. It was very thin, weighed but 10 
pounds (4,536 grams), and had evidently been lost from its 
mother for some time. Its stomach contained nothing but beech- 
nuts, and beechnuts that have lain on the ground all winter, 
and are still fit to eat in June, are certainly few and far between." 

Another peep into the pathetic side of the Bear's life is 
afforded by a letter that I recently received from a little girl 
in Salmon, Idaho:-" 

"Jim Winn, an old trapper and hunter here in the valley, 
said that one time he went out hunting, and when he was eating 
his lunch he heard an awful running and snorting down the hill 
where his horse was, so when he looked around he saw a little 
tiny baby Bear trying to catch the horse. He said that he 
shot at it and hit it in the neck, but did not kill it. He said it 
cried so pitifully that he was sorry he shot it. Pretty soon the 

" Personal letter. 

Blackbear 1073 

mother Bear came and saw the little Bear crying, so she picked 
it up and spanked it very hard, for she did not know what was 
the matter with it. Presently she smelled the blood on the 
little one's neck, and that set her wild. She ran up and down 
the canyon and cried as if her heart would break. Jim said 
he had never seen a Bear cry so much like a human being 
before. Then she came back to the little baby Bear and 
picked it up (it was still crying) and brought it into the thick 
woods. Jim said he thought she was going to bury it, for it 
was nearly dead." 

(Signed) Beth Yearian (age 12). Salmon, Idaho, Novem- 
ber 23, 1902. 

The gambols of a family of little Bears are exceedingly 
boylike and amusing. They wrestle and box and pretend to 
fight with all the vigour of gamins at play. Usually they are 
careful to keep the rules of the game and avoid hurting each 
other, but ill-tempered Bears are as frequent as ill-tempered 
boys, and savage quarrels have thus arise^i in the family. 

A. B. Baker tells" of a little reprobate which, when only 
three and one-half months old, killed his brother in a fight 
over a pan of milk. This same authority has further given us 
in context the seamy side of the mother's character: 

" The old Bear is a model mother to the cubs as long as they 
remain under her care, even refusing on their account the at- 
tentions of her mate, but when they are taken away, her affec- 
tion for them seems soon to end. The two cubs of 1898 were 
removed in May and returned to the mother early in October, 
after first being kept for two weeks with only a grating between. 
She had seemed to recognize them, but when they were put 
together she at once caught the little male by the head and 
killed him, and only forcible measures prevented her from 
climbing the tree and repeating the operation on the other cub, 
which had taken refuge there." 

Throughout the summer the old Bear wanders about the 
home-region that she knows — probably less than a lo-mile 

" Loc. cil., p. 177. 

1074 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

radius — and the little ones grow in size, but usually dwindle 
in numbers. Accidents will happen, and little Bears get 
coughs and colds, or disobey their mothers and come to grief. 
Consequently, while 3 little Bears are often found in the 
mother's den, rarely more than 2 are seen roaming by her 
side in summer, and autumn, in many cases, sees the number 
reduced to i. 

The young, whatever the number, are believed to den up 
with the mother the following winter, and probably remain 
with her until the mating season comes with June, and finally 
the family feeling is dispelled by the newer thought. The 
young ones scatter, and thenceforth when they meet the mother 
they are little better than any other stranger. 

THE So far as I can determine, the father Bear takes no interest 

in the young ones. Menagerie keepers have learned, through 
many disastrous experiences, that the less he is with the cubs 
the better for them. In the vast majority of cases the mother 
is the only adult seen abroad with the young. 

On the other hand, there are on record a few cases in 
which an adult male has been found associated with the mother 
and little ones, and Miles Spencer, of Fort George, Hudson 
Bay, after years of exp'erience in that region, backed by 
the opinions of the native hunters, puts his view on record 
in this brief sentence: "The male assists in rearing the 

Disposi- Notwithstanding a widespread idea, the Blackbear cannot 

be called a fierce or dangerous animal. On the contrary, it is 
one of the shyest and most timid of wild creatures. I have met 
scores of them in the woods, and, almost without exception, 
they fled like Rabbits as soon as they knew I was near. 

The exceptions to this rule are: A captive Bear that has, 
through daily association, lost its fear of man, and, through 
cruelty, begotten a hate of him; a female whose young are 
threatened; and finally, a wounded, cornered, crippled, or 

" Low, Expl. James Ray, Can. Geol. Sun'., 1888, Pt. J, App. Ill, p. 78. 



Black [)car JO7.0 

otherwise disabled Bear, whicfi will fij^ht just as surely as a 
Rat or a Chipmunk will in like conditions. 

Outside these sjiecial circumstances, there is little need 
to fear the wild Blackbear. 

When cornered or forced to fi^^ht, it is a dangerous enemy. 
It can disable a dog or a man with a blow of its paw. With 
its jaws it can crush ribs and limbs. But its claws, sharp 
and driven by muscles of far greater power than those of the 
strongest man, are its truly terrible weapons, and, in spite of 
current legends, we may rest satisfied that no man, however 
powerful, if armed only with natural wea[)ons, would have the 
slightest chance in combat with ;i full-grown Blackbear. 

Among hunters J find tlie greatest difference of opinion mi'.i.i.t- 
regarding the Bear's intelligence. Some will tell you that '''^"'^■'^ 
any one, with any kind of a trap, can catch a Bear. Cithers 
maintain that the smartest Fox that ever lived is a fool to an 
old Blackbear, and stoutly contend that a successful Bear 
hunter and trapper has attained the acme of woodcraft. 

There are doubtless exceptional Bears, whose performances 
have raised the trappers' opinion of the whole race. It is well 
known also that each specialist is apt to give first place to his 
own craft, and ascribe to his prey an intelligence that he denies 
to creatures which he knows less about. 

There is little doubt that the Bear is high in the scale of 
intelligence, though it cannot compare with a dog, Fox, or 
Wolf. It is gifted with marvellous powers of smell and hearing, 
and has a deep-rooted shyness about all things strange, or 
doubtful, which saves it again and again from traps of various 
kinds. Its fixed, safe, and saving motto is: 'In case of doubt, 
run,' and it is nearly always in doubt. 

I have frequently seen a Bear at a distance of half a mile 
cease feeding, throw up his nose as the tell-tale wind brought 
tidings of my presence, then fly to the woods, to journey rniles 
before again assured of peace. 

On the other hand, the Blackbear's eyes are not very good, 
and twice on the open plains in -Manitoba I have, at broad day- 

1076 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

light, walked right into a Blackbear that did not know I was 
near, simply because I had the wind. 


Many tales are told of Bear depredations in western 
camps during the absence of the owners — depredations in 
which hunger had no incentive part. Merriam gives-' one 

that occurred in the Adiron- 
dacks at the Government Sur- 
vey Camp in 1882: 

"Returning one day, after 
a temporary absence, the mem- 
bers of the party were aston- 
ished to find their tent torn 
down, and blankets, books, and 
instruments strewn about upon 
the ground. The foot-prints of 
a Bear revealed the identity of 
the marauder, and Mr. Colvin, 
Superintendent of the Survey, 
afterwards fired at and wounded 
the beast, but did not succeed 
in capturing him." 

J. Blackwell, of Tacoma 
Hotel, Seattle, told me that for 
long they kept a pet Bear cub that developed an extraordinary 
love of mischief. Whenever he could break away he left a trail 
of destruction behind. His wickedest exploit, the one which 
finally turned the women against him, and of course ended in 
his ruin, was entering a house while the family was away and 
deliberately seeking out and tearing to shreds all the bonnets 
in the wardrobe. He would face and fight anything but the 
unknown. And the only thing that seemed unknown to him 
was a wheelbarrow. A small boy could drive him anywhere 
with a wheelbarrow. 

Another old Bear that he had was very savage; no one, not 
even the keeper, dared venture within the radius of the chain. 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 103. 

Fig. 245 — Bear poses. 

Blackbear 1077 

But one day a cripple who came to the hotel got very drunk and 
disappeared. Next morning they heard a voice in the Bear's 
den, "Lay over — who are ye shovin'"; and there was the 
missing cripple sleeping with this ferocious Bear. They had 
much difficulty to get him out, partly because he didn't want 
to come, and partly because the Bear fought them for possession 
of his guest. 

A tame Bear was kept at Park River House on the Red 
River (Minn.) by Alexander Henry in 1804. The old chron- 
icler says:'° 

"He is so tame as to require no care or confinement, but 
associates with the dogs, and even follows them and the men 
into the plains and woods." 

The same old scribbling pioneer gives us another glimpse 
of Blackbear character in the following:" 

"While we were arranging camp I saw a Bear on the east 
side of the river, a little above us, coming down to drink. I 
crossed over and followed him; he soon stopped within a few 
paces and ran up a large oak. I shot him between the shoul- 
ders and he fell to the ground like a log, but in a moment was 
scampering away as fast as he could. I traced him by the 
blood, and soon found him sitting under a brush-heap grum- 
bling and licking his wounds. A second shot dispatched him. 
By the hideous scream he uttered when he fell from the tree I 
imagined he was coming at me, and was waiting for him with 
my second barrel cocked when he ran off. I went for my two 
men, and it was hard work for us three to draw him to the 
canoe; he was very fat. I found that my first ball had gone 
through his heart. I was surprised that he should have been 
so active after a wound of that kind." 

Of course, it is well known that a Blackbear is a good climb 
climber, but I shall never forget the surprise I got when first I 
saw a wild one climb a tree. I had pictured to myself some- 
thing like the slow moving up of a man or a sloth, or at best the 
action of an expert sailor going up the shrouds. But what I 

^'Journal, 1897, p. 253. ^'Idem., p. 87. 


1078 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

really saw was more like the action of a cat. It had not the 
spring and agility of a Squirrel or Marten, but this Bear went 
up three times as fast as any man could, and quite as well as 
any monkey that ever I saw. In coming down he travels tail 
first. It is quite a common thing for a Bear up a tree, when 
fired at, to throw himself to the ground from a considerable 
height. Those hunters who do not know this trick are apt to 
think the game is killed, and are generally surprised to see him 
bound ofi^, as though quite unhurt. 

A friend of mine had a Blackbear cub that used to play 
some very curious tricks on a dog that he alternately played 
and quarrelled with. Hiding in a tree, under which the dog 
sometimes slept, he would await a good chance to leap from 
a height of fifteen feet and land with crushing force on his 
enemy's body, not breaking any bones, but knocking his breath 
out, and driving him away in ignominious rout. 

SWIM- Bears are good swimmers. It is quite a common thing to 

see Bears in Muskoka and in northern Manitoba make volun- 
tarily long swims across lakes and rivers. In the August of 
1906, Dr. Gordon Bell, with the other Water Commissioners of 
Winnipeg, secured a large Bear swimming in Shoal Lake. 

It is easy, if one have boat and rifle, to overtake and kill 
the swimming Bear, but without the latter it is a risky business, 
for the Bear, on seeing the boat come near, may turn and climb 
into it. He does not usually attack the other occupant, under 
these circumstances, but his ideas of 'trim' are so inadequate 
that it usually ends in the hunter having to swim for it. 

WALLOWS Old hunters who have lived their lives among the one-time 
swarming Bears of the Rockies, tell you that a Bear is a kind of 
a pig. What a pig will eat a Bear will eat; what a pig will do 
a Bear will do; only a Bear is smarter and he can climb. Many 
of them apply pig nomenclature to Bears, speaking of them as 
'boars,' 'sows,' 'droves,' etc. 

In the Colorado Mountains I once saw a black muck 
wallow much like that of a Wapiti, but all about were evidences 



// '/ ' /' 




Fig. 246 — Print of Blackbear's left front paw. made by driving the Bear over fresh black paint then 

across strong paper. 

Secured by Mrs. Grace G. Seton. 

1080 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that a mother Blackbear and her young had been using it in 
pig fashion. The hunters there said wallowing was a constant 
practice of Blackbears in hot weather when flies were trouble- 
some, or when they were shedding their coats. This, however, 
was on September 21. 

Another kind of wallowing is indulged in by these Bears. 
I once called attention in Recreation Magazine to the trick of 
rolling in carrion, that is common to dogs and Wolves. Among 
the comments called forth was the following: 

"Having read in Recreation of dogs rolling in carrion, and 
having seen them do it, I can add another animal to the list, 
which I have not seen mentioned, and that is a Blackbear. I 
have a cub about four months old to whom I gave some cooked 
fish that had been left over from supper the night before. 
Instead of eating it, he took it out of the pan and began to roll 
in it, rubbing his head and shoulder the same as I have seen 
dogs do."^- 

'All animals are omnivorous, especially the Blackbear,' 
might properly have appeared in a certain celebrated essay on 
Beasts. The Bears, like the Coons, are quite omnivorous at all 
times. The Weasels will eat fruit, if hard put, but prefer meat 
at all times. The Muskrat will eat fruit if starving, but prefers 
vegetables at all times. But the Bears and Coons prefer all 
things eatable at all times without asking whether they be 
animal, vegetable, or unholy man-made compounds. A list 
of the Bear's staples is not a list of what it likes, but of what 
it can get. 

During the early spring the chief supply of the Blackbear 
is roots. In Manitoba they are said to feed on the roots of the 
Sand-flower or Prairie Crocus {Anemone patens) and the In- 
dian potato {Psoralea escidenta). In the mountains the hunters 
described the earliest spring Bear food as a fibrous white root 
which I could not identify. To this it adds grass shoots, bark 
of young trees, any insect, and every stray Mouse or morsel 
of carrion that it can pick up. 

" James W. Nicol, Moore, Wash., in Recreation Magazine, March, 1900, p. 223. 

Blackbear 1081 

In many of the northern lakes a new food supply is added 
in the myriads of Mayflies that are drowned and washed up on 
the beach. About Shoal Lake, Man., the residents assured me 
that in some seasons the shores of the lake are covered with a 
pile of dead Mayflies 6 feet wide, 6 inches high at the highest 
point, and about 20 miles long. 

E. A. Preble, in his notes on the Blackbear in Keewatin, 
writes :" 

"One was seen near Robinson Portage by Mr. W. C. 
King, who passed this point a day or two ahead of us on his 
way towards York Factory. This Bear was feeding on the 
piles of Mayflies {Ephemeridce) which perish in myriads and 
are washed up on the shores in long windrows. These are said 
to constitute a favourite food of the Bear." 

Hearne says^^ of the Blackbears he killed between York 
Fort and Cumberland House: "Their flesh was abominable. 
This was in the month of June, long before any fruit was ripe, 
for the want of which they then fed entirely on water-insects, 
which in some of the lakes we crossed that day were in aston- 
ishing multitudes. [Foot-note says, 'lying in putrid masses to 
the depth of 2 or 3 feet.'] 

"The method by which the Bears catch these insects is 
by swimming with their mouths open, in the same manner as 
the whales do when feeding on the sea-spider. There was not 
one of the Bears killed that day which had not its stomach as 
full of these insects (only) as ever a hog's was with grains, and 
when cut open the stench from them was intolerable." 

An abundant spring food-root in much of the Bear's range 
is the arum, and, so far as other vegetarians are concerned, it is 
probable that the Bear is welcome to every root of the kind it 
can find in the woods. I know of no other creature that can 
stand its pungent terrors. 

Audubon and Bachman comment thus on the habit:" 

"Perhaps the most acrid vegetable eaten by the Bear is 
the Indian turnip {Arum trtphyllum), which is so pungent that 

" N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, p. 64. " Journey, 1795, p. 370. 

" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 190. 

1082 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

we have seen people almost distracted by it when they had 
inadvertently put a piece in their mouth." 

Richardson, when on the Churchill River in 1848, was 
shown a root that evidently supplied the Bears with food. He 
says of it;" 

"The Actaea alba grows abundantly here. It is called by 
the Canadians le racine d'ours, and by the Crees musqua-mitsu- 
in (Bear's food). A decoction of its roots and of the top of the 
spruce fir is used as a drink in stomach complaints." 

Throughout the summer all kinds of insects, and espe- 
cially ants, are important Bear food. 

In the sandhills about Carberry, in the woods about Lake 
Winnipegosis, throughout the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, 
and on the ranges of the upper Yellowstone, as well as in the 
Rockies of Colorado and the Low Laurentians of the upper 
Ottawa, I have found that ants' nests furnished the Bear with 
an important article of food. Following the trail of one, I 
have found that it invariably turned over every log and flat 
stone that it came to, and ripped open every rotten log and 
stump in its search for insects, the greater part of which must 
have been ants. Among the Bitterroot Mountains I have, in 
a single day, passed hundreds of these demolished logs and 

In the Adirondacks, according to Merriam," the Black- 
bear "delights in tearing open old stumps and logs in search 
of the ants that make their homes in such situations. * * * " 

"While fishing in the North Bay of Big Moose Lake, dur- 
ing the summer of 1 88 1, Mr. Harry Burell Miller, of New York 
City, heard a Bear tearing down an old stump that stood on a 
point in the bay. His guide, Richard Crego, noiselessly 
paddled him to the spot, and he killed the Bear with one ball 
from his rifle. Its stomach contained about a quart of ants 
and their eggs." 

As summer wears on, the Blackbears of the Pacific water- 
shed have a new supply in the myriads of salmon with which 

'" Arc. Search Exp. of 1848 (1851), Vol. I, p. 82. 
" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 95. 

Blackbear 1083 

every clear stream is teeming. And those of the east find a 
corresponding, though smaller, supply in the suckers and other 
swimming spawners. 

Berries, now, begin to ripen, and furnish another bountiful 
resource. Strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries allure 
the Bear from other foods, and strike an equitable bargain for 
their gifts. In return for their delicious pulp, the Bears scatter 
excrementally the unimpaired seeds of these fruits, and thus sow 
the waste places near and far. Consequently, when the condi- 
tions become at all favourable, there is an abundant supply of 
berry seed to take advantage of the opportunity. Thus a 
region devastated by fire is immediately and unwittingly sown 
with berry seeds by the Bears, who, however unconscious they 
may be of their share in the planting, are not slow to come and 
glean their own harvest. 

A pleasing variation of late summer foods is found in the 
nests of several species of wasps, as well as of wild bees. 

According to Merriam,'' the Bear "digs out the nests of 
the 'yellow-jackets,' devouring both the wasps themselves and 
the comb containing their honey and grubs. So fond is he of 
honey that he never misses an opportunity to rob a 'bee tree,' 
manifesting no fear of the bees that angrily swarm about him, 
his thick hair and tough hide protecting him from their stings. 
When plundering the apple orchard he is said to touch only the 
sweetest fruit." 

Similar testimony is given by Captain J. P. McCown,'' 
who observed the Blackbear in Tennessee. 

On September 21, 1905, at Lake Caughnawana, 40 miles 
east of Kippewa, Quebec, I found that a Bear I was tracking 
had stopped at a rotten log to dig out a wasp's nest a few 
minutes before; the comb, in pieces, was scattered about, and 
a number of the yellow-jackets hovered angrily over the ruins 
of their home. 

On the upper Red River, in 1800, when Blackbears 
abounded, Henry writes," September 22: 

^ Ibid., prp. 95-6. " Aud. & Bach., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 195. 

" Journal, 1897, p. loi. 

1084 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"Bears make prodigious ravages in the brush and willows. 
The plum-trees are torn to pieces, and every tree that bears 
fruit has shared the same fate; the tops of the oaks are also 
very roughly handled, broken, and torn down to get the acorns. 
The havoc they commit is astounding; their dung lies about 
in the woods as plentiful as that of the Buffalo in the meadow." 

Autumn arriving with its showers of beechnuts, acorns, 
and other such food, gives all wild creatures a notable chance to 
gather for the coming cold. All work hard to profit by the 
opportunity, storing inside their skins or dens as their custom 
may be, and none work harder or more successfully than the 

It labours without ceasing till nature comes with the 
snow-clouds and abnormally ends the feast by spreading the 
white cloth. 

But the Bear has no notion of quitting the delights of 
active life for the dull monotony of a winter's sleep any sooner 
than possible, and, roaming still in search of food, is often led 
into mischief, killing on such occasions calves and sheep in the 
field or even pigs in the sty. 

At such times it has even been guilty of cannibalism. 
George Crawford (Mittigwab), an Indian of Kippewa, told 
me of a case that he observed on the Upper Ottawa, about 
1890. He tracked a very big Bear in the snow to where it had 
hunted out another that was already denned up, and had 
devoured it all but the jaws. The big fellow had feasted for 
two days, sleeping in the den of the victim, and coming out only 
to eat or else to drop dung, of which there was an immense 
quantity outside. 

Colder weather, deeper snow, and scarcer food at length 
unite in peremptory order to the Bears — *Go now and den for 
a time.' First to obey are the females, that must have a good 
abode suitable for nursery, rather than a mere storm-break; 
last the males, that are content to rough it, and by being late 
to bed and early to rise, get that much more out of life. When 
the Winter King is reigning supreme, there is no evidence of 
such a thing as a Blackbear in the woods. 

Fig. 247 — Bear-tracks 

The series on the left side are tracks of a large Kadiak Grizzl 
after he had walked wet-footed across the dry ; 
ail Bears' feet in walking. 

The two large ones on the right are tracks of a Blackbear observed in the mountains of Colo- 
rado. B. the right front; C, the right hind-foot. These showed but 4 toes each and rarely 
any claws, although in all respects the individual was normal. 

1086 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

SPRING Countless Bears have been seen and slain in their winter 

dens, but I know of only one man who had the good luck to 
see an old Bear at the time when first it emerged in the spring. 
That man was Bert A. Dobson, my Adirondack guide. 

It was in mid-April of 1906; he and his partner were log 
driving on Fish Creek, Lewis County, N. Y. As they sat on 
the bank waiting for the drive, an enormous Blackbear ap- 
peared on the opposite side of the stream. It gazed stupidly 
at them, sniffed, walked to the water, within 30 yards of the 
loggers, and drank long and greedily, so long that its front legs 
seemed tired of stooping. Presently it straightened up, sniffed, 
gazed, and again drank heavily. Three times it did this, till it 
seemed distended with water. Then it crossed the stream, 
still sniffing and gazing in a dazed fashion, and walked past the 
men. They noticed that it was an enormous Bear and that its 
cheeks were grizzled. 

After it was gone they followed its back track in the snow, 
and 250 yards away came to a small pine tree that was deeply 
scored by the teeth of a Bear at 5 or 6 feet from the ground. 
Pieces had been torn out recently and to such an extent that 
the trunk was nearly cut through. On following the trail 100 
yards farther, it led to an enormous hollow pine tree and there 
ended. This proved to be the winter den. Evidently they 
had seen the Bear taking its first drink. 

This Bear, known by its size and its gray cheeks, was 
killed a year later at a place 2| miles from the den, and is said 
to have weighed 400 pounds. 

MEAT There is the widest range of opinion on the fitness of the 

Bear for human food, and circumstances seem to justify all 
extremes. If a young but full-grown Bear, recently fattened 
on grains, roots, and berries, be quickly and mercifully killed 
and the carcass properly cleaned, skinned and prepared, the 
meat is excellent. But if an old Bear, tough, lean, or carrion- 
fed, or finally killed after a long pursuit in warm weather, the 
meat is little better than poison. The very dogs will pass it 
-by in disgust; it has attractions for nothing but flies. 


a. Blackbear. Yellowstone Park, August?. 1897 (natural size). Chiefly grass with fruit and seeds. 

b. Blackbear. Atlial^i;i ! 1 I'r ■ r Inn- i ,, 10D7 (one-third natural size). Chiefly fruit and leaves of arctostaphylos and poplar. 

c. Grizzly Bear. K ■■■! ' - i I.t ,1.- S.ptember 14, igoi {one-fifth natural size), jet black, chiefly vegetable remains, but 

also much luir i.ii r 1 , ,1 ||,\, I.Lcn from a ground-squirrel or from the legs of a fawn. Each piece was crawling with 
maggots inbiik- I n. |,i,, i ,i~ ni,iii> .kiys, maybe two or three weeks old. 



This Bear is a shy, inoffensive animal. A dangerous 
felackbear is much less frequent than a dangerous dog or bull, 
and I am in favour of not only repealing all laws granting 
bounties for killing Bears, but of putting the Blackbear on the 
protected list, as a high-class game animal. 


Common Shrew, Cooper Shrew, or Masked Shrew. 

Sorex personatus I. G. St. Hilaire. 

(L. Sorex, a shrew; personatus, masked, probably because its eyes and ears are 

Sorex personatus I. Geoff. St. Hilaire, 1827, Mem. Mus. 
His. Nat., Paris XV, p. 122. 
Type Locality. — Eastern United States, probably New 

French Canadian, la Musaraigne. 

The Family, Soricidce or Shrews, comprises small mouse- 
like creatures, but most of them are smaller than any Mouse, 
and in anatomy as different from 
the Mice as a small Badger is from 
a big gray Rabbit. This we should 
realize if we could set together a 
Mouse and a Shrew, each magni- 
fied to the size of a sheep. Their 
most striking peculiarity is the ab- 
sence, or apparent absence, of eyes 
and ears; next, their long sharp nose, and last, but of most 
importance, their teeth. On comparing the skulls of Mouse 
and Shrew we shall see more clearly the distinctive peculi- 
arities of these. Even in color they differ, those of Mice 
being clear yellow or whitish, while those of Shrews are 
usually more or less stained with chestnut at the tips. 

Side by side on a large scale (Figs. 249 and 250) the 
great divergencies of their skulls appear. They suggest the hip- 


1092 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

popotamus and crocodile. And every little bump and line has 
a meaning — is evidence and record of the old old fight. There 
are indeed wonderful histories written in these small teeth and 

Fig. 250— Skull of Cooper Shrew (5. personalus). (Eight limes natural size.) 

skulls. Not in greater degree, perhaps, than in every tissue 
and fibre, but these are more lasting and preservable, and 
though the clumsy hand may destroy them by violence, it 
cannot tamper with them as records; there they are in 
their superlative delicacy and meaning for those who can 
read them. 

Cooper Shrew 


And in so doing it is difficult to give them overvalue. The 
heedless crushing of one of these wonderful little caskets of 
information shocks the naturalist with much the same feeling 
as that an art connoisseur might experience on seeing some 
imbecile destroy a Rembrandt etching or a Tanagra figurine. 

3. Aticrasorcx hcyi. 4- Neosorcx pahistris. 

Fig. 251 — Teeth of the Longtailed Shrews found in Manitoba. (Magnified about 10 diameters.) 
[Cuts from Merriara's Synopsis of Sorex, N. A. Fauna, No. 10, Biological Survey. U. S. Department of Agriculture 

The genus Siorex (Linn., 1758) is further characterized by 
very small size, dull gray or brown colours, and long tail, that is, 
over half the length of the head and body. 

The dental formula is: 

4-4 I -I 2-2 , ■i-'i 

Inc. ■ ; can. ; prem. ; mol. 

2-2 0-0 i-i -Jr3) 


1094 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

But the teeth are so unHke those usually called by these 
names, that it is easy to wrongly identify them. 

It is common to call the upper incisors (exclusive of the 
first) and the canines, unicuspiJs, because of their single 
point or cusp. The form of the teeth is greatly changed by 

The Common Shrew (Plate C) agrees with its Family and 
genus; it is further a very small species and has the unicus- 
pids gradually decreasing in size from front to back; thus the 
third unicuspid (z. e., fourth incisor) is larger than the fourth 
unicuspid or canine tooth (see Figs. 250 and 251 — i). 

The average total length is about 3il inches (100 mm.), 
of which the tail is ii\ inches (40 mm.); the hind-foot about 
I inch (13 mm.). 

Merriam weighed an Adirondack specimen at 43.95 
grains (2.85 grammes), and he considered it a very large one.' 
J. H. Linsley weighed one at 47 grains," and Professor S. F. 
Baird another at 37 grains.' I found a Cos Cob specimen to 
weigh 3.1 grammes (47.8 grains). 

The summer coat, above, sepia brown mixed with dark- 
tipped hairs; shaded into ashy white or fawn below; tail, dark 
brownish above and all around at tip, whitish below, rather 
sharply defined, /. e., tail bicolored. 

Winter coat, more grayish above and lighter, sometimes 
pure white below. 

A chestnut phase is sometimes found. The sexes are 

This wide ranging species has but 4 recognized races: 

personatus G. St. Hilaire, the typical form. 
streatori Merriam, slightly larger and darker. 
arcticus Merriam, paler, and with longer tail. 
miscix Bangs, larger and paler than true personatus. 

' Mam. Adir., 1SS4, p. 174. = Zool. N. Y., 1842, Pt. I, p. 23. 

'Pac. R. Rep., 1857, Vol. VIII, p. 26. 


Sorex personatus I. G. St. Hilaire. 

Baird, J. D. Figgins, J. Macoun, and E. T. Seton. 

109G Life-histories of Northern Animals 


RANGE This is the widest ranging of our Shrews, as will be seen 

by Map No. 57. It has been takefl at Norway House and 
Turtle Mountain. I found it at Kenora-, Carberry, Winnipeg, 
Pilot Mound, and Duck Mountain, so doubtless it is generally 
distributed throughout Manitoba. 

iNDi- We have but little evidence on the individual range. 

RANGE Analogy would lead one to believe that an acre was an ample 
kingdom for such a pigmy, but the light afforded by Nelson's 
notes on the Yukon, cited later, shows that it may travel a mile 
or two from home at certain seasons. 

MiGRA- ^These Alaska observations seem to point also to an exten- 

sive migration at the beginning of winter. It may be a regular 
migration or it may be a mere land rush for good claims 
whereon to settle for winter. 

ENvi- Although considered a woodland species, I found it 

WENT abundant on the grassy prairies, near scrubby hollows and 
sloughs. It is but slightly subterranean and is incapable of 
climbing. Its favourite surroundings are in grassy tangles and 
brushy labyrinths of roots and faHen branches by the side of 
streams or ponds; it is never found far from water and yet it 
is not in the least aquatic. 

Its perfect fitting into its allotted surroundings is thus 
graphically pictured by Merriam:^ 

"The naturalist well knows that, however cautiously he 
may walk, the stir of his footstep puts to flight many forms of 
life that will reappear as soon as quiet is restored; therefore, 
in his excursions through the woods, he waits and watches, 
frequently stopping to listen and observe. While thus occupied 
it sometimes happens that a slight rustling reaches his ear. 
There is no wind, but the eye rests upon a fallen leaf that seems 

* Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 173. 


Driwn by E. T. Seton. 

From specimens supplied by the Biological Survey, U. S. Dep. Agr. 

Cooper Shrew 1097 

to move. Presently another stirs, and perhaps a third turns 
completely over. Then something evanescent, like the shadow 
of an embryonic Mouse, appears and vanishes before the retina 
can catch its perfect image. Anon, the restless phantom flits 
across an open space, leaving no trace behind. But a charge 
of fine shot, dropped with quick aim upon the next leaf that 
moves, will usually solve the mystery. The author of the per- 
plexing commotion is found to be a curious, sharp-nosed creat- 
ure, no bigger than one's little finger, and weighing hardly 
more than half a dram. Its ceaseless activity and the rapidity 
with which it darts from place to place is truly astonishing, 
and rarely permits the observer a correct impression of its 

At Carberry it was the most abundant of the Shrews, num- 
I captured a dozen of them in 6 traps during August, 1884, 
the traps being kept in the same places along the edge of a 
slough half a mile in extent. 

In the Adirondacks they abound, and Merriam speaks of 
killing 1 1 in one day under haycocks that had been standing 
a few days in the rain. 

Like most of our small mammals, it is subject to periodic 
fluctuation of numbers without evident cause. In 1882 and 
1884, it was unusually numerous in Manitoba. 

The human ear can hardly hear the high-pitched squeak- voice 
ing that is the only known sound of this small beast, and there 
is every reason to believe that this is varied to express their 
simple emotions, and even to serve as a song. 

Many times in the quiet summer and early autumn 
evenings I have heard in the low thickets about the sloughs 
of Manitoba, a faint small voice, a twittering, so fine and 
high that it was not easily traced. It could not have been 
far away, and no bird was seen to suggest the singer. I 
think it probable that this was the song of a Sorex. 

Most, perhaps all, our Shrews have smell-glands on their 
sides or lower parts; the extent and purpose of these have not 

1098 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

yet been worked out, and are not likely to be very soon, for they 
are at present beyond our sense power to gauge or analyze. 
The genius who invents an odoronieter will open a new and 
wonderful world to the ken of man. 

sociA- Although so numerous, the Masked Shrew is neither gre- 

'''"^^ garious nor sociable. Indeed, it is unsociable to the point of 

ferocity. Whenever two of them fell into one of the pitfalls 

that I used for their capture, the stronger one invariably attacked 

and devoured his weaker brother. 

Merriam also says :' " I once confined three of them under 
an ordinary tumbler. Almost immediately they commenced 
fighting, and in a few minutes one was slaughtered and eaten by 
the other two. Before night, one of these killed and ate its 
only surviving companion, and its abdomen was much dis- 
tended by the meal." 

The only record I can find of two being together without a 
murderous fight is that given by Herrick (quoted later), and 
these I presume were a pair. 

DEN This species is not known to tunnel or burrow. Its life 

is spent above ground, and its home-nest is in any sheltered 
spot, not too far from the level of the earth. Merriam says:° 
"Whenever a tree or a large limb falls to the ground, these 
Shrews soon find it, examining every part with great care, and 
if a knot-hole or crevice is detected, leading to a cavity within, 
they are pretty sure to enter, carry in materials for a nest, and 
take formal possession. Hence their homes are not infre- 
quently discovered and destroyed by the wood-chopper." 

MATING We have very little light on the mating of the Shrews. 

All the evidence goes to show that the species may mate and 
multiply with little regard to season; that is, young may be 
found at any time, except in winter. 

Whether they pair or are polygamous or promiscuous is 
not known. But it is a general rule that animals which are 

'Mam. AfViT., 1884, p. 174. ''Ibid., p. 174. 

Cooper Shrew 1099 

so ferociously quarrelsome and cannibal as these, do indeed 
pair, though the two continue together for a brief season only, 
perhaps an hour or two during the season of meridian ardour, 
then part to meet no more as friends. 

The only facts bearing on the case I find in Herrick's 
"Mammals of Minnesota." His account is so charming, and 
new, that I give it in full.' Not the least important feature 
is the date — November. 

"In November, 1883, the writer lay encamped under the 
canopy of the sky in Pine County, Minn., endeavouring to 
escape the chill of the frosty air by drawing the blanket close 
and hovering nearer the camp-fire. To a person alone in the 
woods for the first time after a long interval, every sound is 
novel and more or less charged with mystery. The wind 
stirred the tree tops, and impinging boughs clattered, and the 
trunks groaned under the tortion, each tree with its own 
doleful note. The few remaining pines added their sighing 
to the many melancholy sounds belonging to an autumn forest 
at night. But amid all the sounds nothing could be identified 
as coming from anj'thing living, even the distant howling of 
Wolves was silenced, and I began to feel that the attempt to 
gain personal knowledge of the ways of the woodsy mammals 
by night study would prove futile, and composed myself to 
sleep. The half-somnolent reverie which forms the prelude 
to slumber was b'roken by faint melodious sounds on an exces- 
sively high key — so high that it seemed that I might be simply 
hearing the lower notes of an elfin symphony, the upper 
registers in which were beyond the powers of human ears to 
distinguish. The sounds were distinctly musical, and reminded 
me of the contented twitter of birds finding resting places among 
the boughs at night. Without moving, I turned my eyes upon 
the fire-lit circle, about which the darkness formed an appar- 
ently impenetrable wall. Only the most careful scrutiny 
enabled me to discover the tiny musicians. Within a few feet 
of my head, upon a decayed log, raced a pair of Shrews {S. 
cooperi),^ so minute as to escape my observation at first. Up 

' Mam. Minn., 1892, pp. 41-2. ' 5. cooperi = S. personatus. 

1100 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and down, with the most sprightly motions imaginable, they 
ran, twittering incessantly. Hither and thither they scampered, 
over my clothing and almost into my pockets, like veritable 
Lilliputians, seizing now a crumb of cheese, with which my 
traps were baited, and now a bit of fish fallen from my impro- 
vised supper table. During the eating the conversation was 
not interrupted. The little visitors were not bashful about 
criticising the housekeeping of their host, if their apparent 
amusement can thus be interpreted, but it was a most good- 
humoured little party, nevertheless, which thus unceremoniously 
ransacked my larder. The party increased in numbers and 
merriment, until I was almost forced to believe myself an unin- 
vited guest within the magic circle of Queen Mab's domain. 
I watched with interest the result of their intrusion into the 
traps which stood about for the capture of any Red-backed 
Mouse that might invade my camp, but Sorex passed entirely 
within, and, daintily arching his back, contentedly nibbled the 
cheese; when the spring rose it usually suffered but a short 
fright, and returned to finish the interrupted meal. Canned 
fish seemed to be more acceptable than any other food I had 
to offer. Tiring of the watching, I again lay down to sleep, 
during which time elfin voices sounded in my dreams. About 
midnight one of the little imps sprang across my face in so 
violent a way as to partially awaken me, and thus, as good 
fortune had it, I was awake sufiiciently to recognize the mean- 
ing of a sharp crack overhead, and sprang out of my bed in time 
to see it occupied by a massive tree trunk which the fire had 
burned off not far from the ground." 

These tiny creatures run by day as well as by night, and 
the only apparent use of their rudimentary eyes is to tell them 
when they are emerging from safe shadow into the open light 
with its great increase of danger. 

I captured a number of them by making little pitfalls of 
pickle-jars, sunken level in runways, made by lifting a pole that 
had long lain in the rank grass, and found that the efficacy of 
this trap was greatly increased if a raised cover were put over 

Cooper Shrew 1101 

each, so the jar was a shady place in the middle of an open run. 
The Shrew seemed to rush along the tunnel with more haste 
than discretion, and so was made prisoner. 

When trapping for larger creatures and using a meat bait, 
one often finds the trap sprung without catching the meddler. 
In many cases I have traced the matter home to this little 

In the early spring, while yet the snow is deep everywhere, 
the sun-heat gathered by the long projecting grass, melts holes 
through the drift to the ground below. These shafts, with a 
strong stalk up the middle of each, afford a tempting opportunity 
to scramble into the big world. The little Shrews often yield to 
the temptation. They clamber up onto the vast expanse of 
snow and, setting out to explore, they forget the way back to 
the 'elevator-shaft,' and get lost. The snow is commonly 
crusted at this season, so they cannot burrow, and usually 
they die in a few hours, not from cold, but from hunger. 

A number of curious notes on the subterranean migration 
of this Shrew, when the ground is covered with snow, are given 
by Nelson in his "Natural History of Alaska."' 

"In fall [he says] the first severe weather brings them 
about the trading stations and native villages, and there they 
forage and penetrate every corner of the houses with all the 
persistence of the domestic Mouse. Scores of them were 
killed about our houses at Saint Michael every winter, and 
they were equally numerous at the other stations throughout 

the interior. 


"After snowfalls they travel from place to place by 
forcing a passage under the snow, and frequently keep so near 
the surface that a slight ridge is left to mark their passage. On 
the ice of the Yukon I have traced a ridge of this kind over a 
mile, and was repeatedly surprised to see what a direct course 
the Shrews could make for long distances under the surface. 
These minute tunnels were noted again and again crossing the 
Yukon from bank to bank. 

"Nat. Hist. Alaska, 1887, pp. 270-1. 

1102 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"These little adventurers sometimes tunnel far out on the 
sea-ice, and the Norton Sound Eskimo have a curious supersti- 
tion connected with such stray individuals. They claim that 
there is a kind of a water Shrew living on the ice at sea which 
is exactly like the common land Shrew in appearance, but which 
is endowed with demoniac quickness and power to work harm. 
If one of them is disturbed by a person it darts at the intruder, 
and burrowing under the skin, works about inside at random, 
and finally enters the heart and kills him. As a consequence 
of this belief, the hunters are in mortal terror if they chance to 
meet a Shrew on the ice at sea, and in one case that I knew of, a 
hunter stood immovable on the ice for several hours until a 
Shrew he happened to meet disappeared froni sight, whereupon 
he hurried home, and his friends all agreed that he had had a 
very narrow escape." 

Many hawks and owls are known to destroy this Shrew. 
At Carberry, September 29, 1884, I collected a great gray-owl 
whose capacious maw contained nothing but one of these 
mites. I recently received another specimen taken from the 
stomach of a rough-legged hawk at Winnipeg, October 21, 
1907. Many beasts of prey will prey on this least of beasts; 
that is, they will kill it, but it has a defence somewhat like that 
of the Skunk — a most obnoxious smell, which usually makes 
them think twice before swallowing it. I have often found 
Shrews dead on the path with skulls crushed, but otherwise 
uninjured. These I believe were killed by Weasels or cats 
that chanced to catch them scampering by, but which, on 
second thought, could not stomach the rank, protective 
smell with which the Shrew had enveloped itself — a little too 

Another enemy that will slay but hardly eat the Sorex is 
the Mink. Miller, in recording the capture of a remarkably 
large Mink at Peninsula Harbor, Ont., says:'" "He had fol- 
lowed the water's edge closely most of the way, but occasionally 
had made short excursions up the beach in search of prey. 

'°Mam. Ont., Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., 1897, p. 43. 

Cooper Shrew 1103 

On one of these side expeditions he had captured a Shrew 
{Sorex personatus) which had also left its track in the sand. 
The tracks of the two animals showed that the Shrew was not 
killed until he had led his enemy a sharply zigzag chase. The 
Mink left the tail and hind-quarters of the Shrew lying on the 
sand, and continued his way directly to my trap." 

At Duck Mountain, Man., June 15, 1884, I found a 
dead Masked Shrew in a catbird's nest about six feet from 
the ground. As the Shrew could not have climbed there 
itself, I suspect that a jay or shrike had killed it for food, 
but changed his mind about eating it, on fully realizing the 
foul deed he had done. 

In my Journal for 1882 I find a note that may record a 
similar incident: 

October 27, 1882, while examining an old stump in the 
woods to the north of Carberry, I met with an excellent illustra- 
tion of the aptitude of the Spanish name for the woodpecker, 
'II Carpentero,' as applied to our flicker. I mean in the 
sense of its being a worker in wood and house-provider for 
others. The history of the case was briefly this, as far as the 
circumstantial evidence revealed it: 

First came the hard-working flicker and excavated the 
hole, perhaps while yet the stump was sound, and in the years 
that followed we know not how many young flickers cracked 
their glass-like shells in this narrow chamber; and after the 
flickers came no more it was taken by some bird, a grakle 
perhaps, that, like the 'foolish man, founded his nest on sand,' 
finishing its superstructure with mud, sticks, and straw. Next 
came a new possessor, who built a strong shapely nest of moss 
and mud; but for the situation it might have been the work of 
a robin. Lastly, this many-storied tenement house became the 
eyrie of a sparrowhawk, whose household furniture of straw 
and moss reached half-way up to the doorway. A strange tale 
of a hole, surely; but there was more yet to be learned from the 
old stub, and, allowing fullest weight to circumstantial evidence 
and accepting the supposititious as fact, I may be allowed 
to relate, as a matter of established history, that on a certain day 

1104 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Sir Falco sparverius brought home to his brood a tiny Shrew, 
of the species yclept by scientists the Sorex personatus. Now, 
it chanced that the young hopefuls of the robber baron were 
not just then very hungry — oh! marvellous chance — so that the 
Sorex personatus, being left to his own devices, set about to 
escape, and so far succeeded that he burrowed down through 
the home effects of the kestrel and the moss-builder, but here 
the hard mud floor barred further progress, and the poor 
little captive, weary and wounded, soon died in the buried 
nest; and there I found him, like Ginevra in the oaken 
chest, when long afterwards I broke open the rotten timber 
and made it disclose a tragic tale that, maybe, never hap- 
pened at all. 

The food of this Shrew is chiefly insects and worms, with 
a welcome variation when flesh meat of any kind happens to 
fall in its way. There is reason to believe that it will occa- 
sionally kill and devour Field-mice, and, as we have seen, it 
is very ready when in captivity to destroy for food the weaker 
ones of its own species. As related, Merriam put three of 
them together. One was killed and eaten by his companions; 
then the stronger of the survivors served the other in the same 
way. " Hence," he says, " in less than eight hours one of these 
tiny wild beasts had attacked, overcome, and ravenously 
consumed two of its own species, each as large and heavy 
as itself. The functions of digestion, assimilation, and the 
elimination of waste are performed with wonderful rapidity, 
and it seems incomprehensible that they should be able 
to procure sufiicient animal food to sustain them during our 
long and severe winters; indeed, I incline to believe that their 
diet is more comprehensive than most writers suppose, and that 
they feed upon beechnuts and a variety of seeds, and possibly 
roots as well, though I confess that I have no direct evidence to 
adduce in support of this supposition." 

There is, however, much indirect evidence. Some allied 
species and many carnivores are known to do this very thing 
when they fail to find the necessary rations of flesh meat. 

Cooper Shrew 1105 

The appetites of Shrews are enormous and their digestion 
is rapid. No doubt they eat their own weight of food every 
twenty-four hours; and they die of starvation in half a day. 

They do not hibernate, neither are they known to lay up 
a store of food, so the problem of food-supply must keep them 
eternally vigilant under the snow. 


Richardson Shrew, Black-backed or Saddle-backed 

Sorex richardsoni Bachman. 

Sorex richardsonii Bach., 1837. Jour. Acad. Nat. Sci., Phila., 
VII, pt. II, 383, Pi. XXIV, Fig. 5. 
Type Locality. — Probably plains of Saskatchewan. 

French Canadian, la Musaraigne dc Richardson. 

In general, this species (see Plate C) combines large size 
and a rather short tail, with the family and generic char- 
acters. It has the third unicuspid larger than the fourth (see 
Fig. 251 — 2), and its fur is of the tricolour style, that is, in 
hands, back dark, sides lighter, beloiv lightest; each colour rather 
abruptly defined against the next. 

Total length, about 4I inches (114 mm.); tail, lA 
inches (40 mm.); hind-foot, ve inch (14 mm.). 

Above, clear dark brown not sprinkled with hoary; sides, 
dull yellowish-brown contrasted against back and belly colour; 
below, pale brownish-white; tail, dark above, also below on tip 
third, else below, pale brown, that is, bicoloured with the colours 
of the flanks and back. 


Very little is known about the range of this Shrew. The 
map shows all the reliable records. I secured 3 specimens in 
Manitoba, 2 at Carberry, and i at Shoal Lake. Preble got 9 


Sorex richardsoni Bachman. 
The outline is the theoretical range. The spots are the actual -cords as g.ven in C Haxt Mcmam's S^^opsis, with others made by John 
Macoun in Saskatchewan, by E. T. Seton in Manitoba, and by E. A. Preble m Keewatm, and Mackenzie. 


1108 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

at Norway House' and E. Hollis got one at Touchwood Hills/ 

so that it doubtless ranges throughout Manitoba. 

ENvi- It is always found near the water and is probably more 

^NT aquatic than the Cooper Shrew. The Shoal Lake specimen I 

found floating in the water in a night-heronry. It was a mile 

Fig. 252 — Skull of Richardson Shrew (Sorex rkkardsfmi). (Double natural size.) 
From Merriam's Synopsis. Plate VI, N. A. Fauna 10, 1895. Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. Agr. 

at least from dry land, and most likely was being carried to the 
heronry by one of the birds, who later decided that the speci- 
men was not savoury enough to eat. 

Bailey found it quite common at Elk River, Minn., and 
much like the Common Shrew in habits.' 

The above-mentioned specimen, recorded by Hollis, was 
taken with cheese bait, November 7, after the snow had fallen. 
It was but ten yards from water. 

A specimen taken at Norway House by Preble on June 
22 contained 6 embryos.^ 

This is all the definite information I can find concerning 
the species. 

ITS CON- No doubt it resembles its European congener {S. araneus) 

in habits as closely as it does in appearance. Bell describes^ 
the latter as feeding on mollusks, worms, and insects, and so 
pugnacious that two are rarely seen together except fighting. 
If two be confined in the same box, the stronger kills and 
devours the weaker one. He believes that they are much 
preyed on by Moles and owls. Cats also will kill them, but 
rarely eat them, being repelled by the musky smell. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, p. 73. 'Zoologist, August 15, 1902, p. 297. 

' Rep. Om. and Mam. for 1887 (pub. 1888), U. S. Dep. Agr., p. 435. 

* Loc. cit., see Note i. "Br. Quad., 1874, pp. 143-4. 


Pigmy Shrew, or Hoy Shrew. 

Microsorex hoyi (Baird). 
(Gr. micros, small; L. sorex, a shrew; hoyi of Dr. P. R. Hoy who discovered it.) 

Sorex hoyi Baird, 1857, Mam. N. A., p. 32. 
Microsorex hoyi Elliot, 1901, Syn. Mam. N. A., Field. 
Mus., Zool. Ser., Pub. No. 45, Vol. II, p. 377. 
Type Locality. — Racine, Wis. 

French Canadian, la Musaraigne de Hoy. 

The genus Microsorex (Baird, 1877) may be known by 
its small size and peculiar teeth which resemble those of Sorex 
in number but differ in their proportionate sizes, etc. (see Fig. 
251 — 3). Its third upper unicuspid is very minute and nearly 
hidden between the second and fourth. It has on the inner 
side of the first and second unicuspids a distinct secondary 
cusp. Its mandible is short and heavy; the feet are not 
fringed with bristles, that is, they resemble those of the Com- 
mon Shrew. 

At first glance the Hoy Shrew (see Plate C) looks like 
a very small Masked Shrew, but the generic characters dis- 
tinguish it. 

Total length, about 3§ inches (85 mm.); tail, i| inches size 
(29 mm.); hind-foot, | inch (10 mm.). 

Above, dull brown shaded gradually into pale gray colour 
below; chest, usually tinged with rusty; tail, faintly bicol- 
oured. Every word of which will apply equally well to 

G. S. Millcr'i 
specimens in 


Sorex ho\}i Baird. 

jutlinc shows the theoretical ranRe. All the records I can find are spotted on the map. Thev arc from C. Hart Merriam's Synofisis 
Mani. Ont., S. F. BairU's Mammals, E. A. Prelilc's Kcewatin, etc., W. H. Osgood's Cook's Inlet, C. C. Adams, Northern Michigan 
Field Museum. 


Hoy Shrew iill 

personatus, so that we must rely on size and dentition for 

Three races are recognized: 

hoyi Baird, the typical form. 
extmius Osgood, larger and paler. 
alnorum Preble, like hoyi, but larger, and lower parts 
not tinged with buffy. 

This, the least of our beasts, was first discovered at Racine, 
Wis., but has since been found in various localities, from 
Nova Scotia to British Columbia, as shown on the map, No. 59. 

Dr. C. Hart Merriam records' a specimen from Red 
River Settlement. On this rests its claim to being Manitoban. 

Little is known of its habits, but probably they differ 
little from those of Sorex personatus. 

The following brief account is the longest I can find:^ 
"Hoy's Shrew avoids bogs and heavy woods. At North 
Bay I invariably found it in dry clearings and gardens. Several 
fell into pitfalls dug in a garden and others entered traps set 
beneath stumps in a meadow. The one taken at Peninsula 
Harbor was found by a dog under the rotting trunk of a small 
tree in an open upland prairie. 

"A female taken at North Bay on August 22 has only 4 
mammae; all inguinal. In this character it differs from Sorex 
personatus and agrees with Blartna brevicauda. A reduction 
in the number of mammae is probably characteristic of the sub- 
genus Microsorex." (Miller.) 

' N. A. Fauna, No. lo, p. go, 1895. ' Mam. Ont., 1897, p. 37. 


Marsh-shrew, Water-shrew, or Black-and-white 

Neosorex palustris (Richardson). 

(Gr. neos, new; L. sorex, a shrew; L. palustris, of marshes.) 

Sorex palustris RiCH., 1828, Zool. Journ., Ill, No. 12, p. 517. 
Neosorex palustris Elliot, 1 901, Syn. Mam. N. A., Field 

Mus., Zool. Sen, Pub. 45, Vol. II, p. 378. 
Type Locality. — Region between Hudson Bay and Rocky 


French Canadian, la Musaraigne de Marais. 

The genus Neosorex (Baird, 1857) is much like Sorex, but 
differs in having greater size, different colour pattern, and 
peculiar feet; these are adapted for swimming, having beau- 
tiful white fringes of bristle-like hair; they are, indeed, much 
like the feet of a Muskrat in miniature. 

Its teeth differ somewhat from those of Sorex (see Fig. 
251 — 4); but many consider the differences to be only sub- 
generic. It is easily distinguished from the other Long-tailed 
Shrews in Manitoba by its much greater size and black-and- 
white style of colouration. 

Total length, 6| inches (155 mm.); tail, 2 A inches 
(65 mm.); hind-foot, | inch (19 mm.). 

All above dusky brown, or very dark gray, sprinkled with 
hoary; below white, silvery in some lights; dorsal and ventral 
areas rather sharply defined from snout to tail root; tail, 
bicoloured, blackish above and all around near tip, white 



Neosorex paluslris (Richardson). 

The outlines enclose the theoretical range. The spots are the actual records; they are chiefly from C. Hart Merriam's Synopsis, with 
others by S. N. Rhoads, E. A. Preble, J. Macoun, and E. T. Seton. 


1114 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The impression it gives is of a large Long-tailed Shrew, 
black above, white below (see Plate C). 

Preble says:' "A specimen received from Mr. J. K. 
MacDonald, of Norway House, who obtained it from the 
Indians, is in full winter pelage. It resembles the specimen 
from Robinson Portage taken in September, except that the 
fur of the back is tipped with whitish." 

Four races are recognized: 

palustris Rich., the typical form. 

navigator Baird, a smaller and more plumbeous race. 

albibarbis Cope, a dark-bellied race. 

alaskanus Merriam, like navigator but smaller. 


Manitoba is about the middle of the range accredited to 
this Shrew, but the only recorded specimen taken in the 
Province was one which I captured at Carberry in 1884 and 
sent to the American Museum of Natural History in New 
York. Preble's specimens, with other records, fairly surround 
the Province, so that it is to be looked for in all parts of Manitoba. 

ENVIRON- The species is aquatic, inhabiting the borders of streams 
and marshes. My Carberry specimen was captured in a sedge 
by a slough. The Indians who brought the Norway House 
specimen to MacDonald called it * Beaver-mouse,' because 
it was found in the houses of the Beaver. Samuel Hearne says' 
that in the Hudson Bay Territories "the Shrew Mouse is 
frequently found in Beaver houses during winter, where they 
not only find a warm habitation, but also pick up a comfortable 
livelihood from the scraps left by the Beaver." 

From the preceding we may rightly infer that it was a 
good swimmer. Professor John Macoun tells me that he has 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, pp. 71-2. 'Journey, 1795, p. 386. 


Marsh-shrew 1115 

seen it in the clear open waters of a mountain brook at 
Crow's Nest Pass, B. C. It darted about swiftly in the current, 
without apparent effort, the snout and back only out. 

V. Bailey found it rather scarce at Elk River, Minn., and 
adds,' " I have always found them living in holes in creek banks; 
in the spring of 1886 a neighbour caught and gave me one that 
he found swimming in a small pond of snow water in a hollow 
near his house." 

My Carberry specimen was captured August 28, 1884, in 
the runway of a Marsh-mouse, and I doubt not it preys on 
them regularly. It was a female evidently suckling young. 

Here our knowledge of its habits ends. The best we can 
do is turn to the uncertain light of analogy. 

The Crossopus is a European congener that may help in 
this. It is a species that leads the life of a miniature Otter, 
swimming and diving with the greatest ease, and taking to the 
water as an escape from its enemies. It feeds on flesh, insects, 
and moUusks, and nests in a hole in a bank by the water. 

According to Bell * it produces 6 young at a brood. 

' Rep. Om. Mam. U. S. Dep. Agr. for 1887 (1888), p. 435. 
* Br. Quad., 1874, p. 154. 

The Short-tailed Shrew or Mole-shrew. 

Blarina brevicauda (Say). 

{Blarina, a name made up by Gray in 1837; brevicauda, from L. brevis, short, and 
Cauda, a tail.) 

Sorex hrcvtcaudus Say, 1823, Long's Exp. Rocky Mts., I, p. 

Blarina brevicauda Baird, 1 857, Mam. N. A., pp. 42-45. 
Type Locality. — Near Blair, Neb. 

French Canadian, la Taupe Musaraigne. 
OjiB. & Cree, Kin'-skee-sha-wah-vjah-bee-gah-note'- 
see (sharp-nosed, short-tailed Field-mouse). 

The genus Blarina (Gray, 1837) differs from Sorex 
exteriorly in its much shorter tail. The latter is about one-fourth 
the length of the head and body. The tooth formula is as in 
Sorex, but the relative proportions of the unicuspids are differ- 
ent; the first two are very large, and the next two much smaller. 
The fifth unicuspid, that is, the canine, or sixth tooth from the 
front, is so small as to be hard to see. These peculiarities are 
very marked in Blarina brevicauda (see Fig. 253 and Plate C). 

In total length it is about 5 inches (127 mm.). Tail 
vertebrae, i inch (25 mm.); hind-foot, | inch (16 mm.). It 
is largest in the type region, and smaller in the northern, 
southern, and eastern parts of its range, and especially so on 
the Atlantic coast. 




A large male taken at Cos Cob, October 24, 1908, weighed weight 
22.3 grammes; an adult female taken at same place, September 
23, weighed 17.1 grammes. 

All above, dark brownish-gray, shading on the under parts colour 
into a much paler tint of the same colour; everywhere the coat 

Fig. 253 — Skull of Blarina brcincauda. (Doubl& natural size.) 
(Cuts from Mcrriara's Revision. N. A. Fauna. No. lo, Plate I. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dept. Agr., 189S.) 

is silky and glossy. The under-fur is lead colour. In general, 
summer coat is palest. Sexes alike. 

When seen alive it looks like a lead-coloured bobtailed 
Mouse, without eyes or ears. Its superior size and very short 
tail will easily distinguish it from others of our Shrews. 

There are six recognized races: 

brevicauda Say, the typical form. 

carolinensis Bach., much smaller. 

hulophaga Elliot, very small, pale, and short-tailed. 

peninsulcB Merriam, like carolinensis, but with larger 

hind-foot and more slaty colour. 
aloga Bangs, a small pale brown form from Martha's 

compacta Bangs, a small slaty form from Nantucket. 

1118 Life-histories of Northern Animals 


The map, No. 6i, shows the range of the species to be in 
the forested part of the moist temperate region of eastern 
North America. 

It was originally discovered by the naturalist Say, at 
Engineer Cantonment, near the present town of Blair, Neb., 
in the winter of 1819. Since then it has been observed in 
all the region from western Nebraska and Manitoba, eastward 
to the Atlantic coast. 

I found this Shrew abundant about Rat Portage (now 
Kenora) in the fall of 1886, and also captured specimens at 
Lower Fort Garry and Winnipeg, but I did not find it in the 
prairie region about Carberry. Dr. Merriam has recorded' 
specimens from Pembina and many points in North Dakota 
and Minnesota, so that it may be looked for with certainty 
throughout the wooded parts of southern Manitoba. 

ENVIRON- All the eyeless bug-hunters that form the present group of 
Insectivora are creatures that prey where eyes are of little use, 
which means under brush, moss, or ground. If we set them in 
a scale of subterraneousness, a scale corresponding with their 
degree of eyelessness, we shall put: 

1st. The Long-tailed Shrew, that prowls in labyrinth and 
thicket, but rarely digs. 

2nd. The Blarina, that hunts still lower, a threader of 
mouse-tunnels, and a digger in moss, fallen leaves, and loamy 
soil, like an inexperienced Mole. 

3rd. The Star-nosed Mole that digs in moss, softer mould, 
and occasionally in mud. 

4th. The true Mole that never ceases to work for a living 
by tunnelling in the ground, be it never so hard. 

The favourite localities of the Blarina are woodlands, 
under log-piles, and among tangles of brush and sedgy grass, 

' N. A. Fauna, No. lo, 1805, p. 13. 


Blarina brecicauda (Say) 
The outlines enclose the theoretical range, fairly well established in Ihe south and east. The spots are the actual records; Ihcy arc chiefly 
. Hart Merriam's Revision, with others by O. Bangs, G. S. Miller, S. N. Rhoads. V. Bailey, D. C. Elliot, and E. 1. beton. 


1120 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

along streams and in hardwood bush; here they live somewhat 
after the manner of a Field-mouse, but also digging and tun- 
nelling in a way that recalls the Moles. 

The furrowed — sometimes tunnelled — track that this ani- 
mal leaves in snow is an exact expression of its methods and 
y of its summer life beneath the 

/^A// /' Y'yoyz^^^y'y leaves and rubbish in the woods. 
/ "'" ' " ■- I never realized this fully 

^ ' ' '^ , , - -s^ until I chanced to see one in its 

/ ' daily life at Cos Cob. The note 

;t^ J ^ ^ in my journal runs thus: 

/'; June 30, 1905. — This morn- 

'' '^'//'■/'^S'^^M/'^i'y///'^'/ ''^ ing at nine I sat watching a 
'' ^ ., , u „ , u Hare m the woods; there was 

Fig. 254 — The furrowed trail of the Mole-shrew 

°'''"^""='- a rustling of leaves. Then I saw 

the dry brown carpet near me lifting along a crooked line. 
At first I thought it must be a Chipmunk driving a new 
air-shaft from below, but the rustling continued. At one 
point a sharp nose appeared and worked about in the air, 
then speedily was withdrawn. The heaving of the leaf-bed 
continued at the rate of a very slow walk; then at a bare place 
the heaver emerged for a moment. It was a Blarina. He 
disappeared at once under the next leaf-bed, and so went on 
burrowing his way, not mole-like, in the earth, but in a fashion 
of his own beneath the leaves. Twenty-five feet farther I lost 
all trace of the leaf-heaver. I examined his trail, but found no 
tunnel; all had closed behind him. Free as a Mole in the soil, 
he drove his sub-leaf gangway where he would, and doubtless 
lived on the country as he went. This, then, was his way of 
life — this little inter-world betwixt floor and carpet was for 
him; and thus I learned why he had bartered his eyesight for 
keener powers of smell and touch. 

Less aquatic probably than either Marsh-shrew or Star- 
nosed Mole, the Blarina is nevertheless rarely far from 
water. All that I have seen or taken were within 100 
yards of a stream or pond, and most of them on the 
water's very edge. 

Mole-shrew 1121 

With 6 traps set for two weeks in a sedgy corner of an num- 
island at Lake of the Woods, I captured 5 of this species and ^^^ 
had evidence of others remaining. As the sedgy tract was 

Fig. 255 — Portion of Blarina labyrinth on snow. 

less than two acres in extent, this furnishes a hint of their pos- 
sible numbers. 

One day in January, 1907, after a fresh fall of snow, I 
walked for a mile through the woods at Cos Cob, and found 
labyrinths of fresh Blarina tunnels about every fifty yards. 

There was doubtless a Blarina for each system of tunnels, 
and many of the species were probably not yet represented, as 
it was but three or four hours since the fresh snow came. This, 
therefore, affords a minimum gauge of the creature's numbers. 

In late September, 1908, I noticed a great many small, 
round holes opening from underground galleries. They were 
sometimes i inch across, sharp, round, and opened from 
below; sometimes i| inches with a little loose earth scratched 

....-»"■ >- 

1 \ 


1' / 

Fig. 256 — Blarina labyrinth on snow. March 6, 1Q07. Cos Cob, Conn. 
The black spots are plunge holes straight down. 

out. The former went down plumb, the others sloping. They 
were so numerous that I found 6 along a little woodland 
pathway 94 yards in length; 6 traps set by these resulted 

1122 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

after 3 days in the capture of 8 Blarinas. At another place 
they were even more plentiful, as I counted 17 holes in a 
space 8 by 10 feet. In this woods there were certainly 50 
Blarinas to the acre. 

sociA- Like the rest of the group, this animal is neither sociable 


nor gregarious. 

TUNNELS The tunnel inhabited by a pair of these animals in 

October, 1908, is shown in Fig. 257. I found no nest. When 

1 reached the place near the lowest stone on the diagram, 
and noticed first the plugging of the gallery, second the plunge 
hole, I thought that the nest was close at hand, as these 
are the usual indications. But the plunge ended on a 
hard rock. 

This gallery was everywhere i to 2 inches down, and i J to 

2 inches wide. 

NfESTs There is evidence that the species not only makes a warm 

nest for its young, under a log or stump below ground, but also 
keeps up a soft and comfortable home for itself the year round. 
A. F. Shull, whose studies have shed so much light on this Shrew, 
says- that the Blarina nest differs from that of a Microtus — 
thus, the former uses the nesting material as it finds it, the 
latter tears and shreds it up into fine lint. 

BREED- The mating habits of this Shrew are almost unknown. The 

little evidence we have goes to show that they pair, but that the 
male abandons the nest for a time, perhaps under pressure, on 
the arrival of the young. The first pairing season occurs in 
early April. Dr. Merriam says ■? " On the 22d of April, 1 878, 1 
found a couple of these Shrews under a plank-walk near my 
museum. They proved to be male and female, and the latter 
contained young, which, from their size, would probably have 

' Habits of the Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina breincauda (Say), \m. Nat., August, 1907, 
pp. 495-522, 5 illustrations. 

'Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 172. 


Tunnels oi Blarina, Oct. 6, 1908, Cos Cob, Conn. 

vertical section. (By A. Franklin Shull.) 

Fig. S57— Timnels and nests of Blarina. 


1124 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

been born early in May. Another female, caught near the same 
place, April 21, 1884, contained 5 large embryos which would 
certainly have been born within ten days. They weighed 
together 4.20 grammes. I procured a half-grown young, 
February 10, 1884, which must have been born late in the fall. 
Hence, two or three litters are probably produced each season. 
The young born in autumn do not breed in the spring following, 
as I have demonstrated by repeated dissections of both sexes." 
Rhoads believes that the young are born at any season 
of the year.^ Bachman states' that they "are occasionally 
turned up by the plough on the plantations of the South, when 
they utter a faint squeaking cry like young Mice, and make 
awkward and scrambling attempts to escape, trying to conceal 
themselves in any tuft of grass, or under the first clod of earth 
that may present itself." 

To this I can add one or two scraps of information. On 
July 21, at Cos Cob, I captured a female that was evidently 
nursing, and on October 20, at Rat Portage, Ont., I secured a 
large male that was in rut. 

In the above-mentioned investigations made September, 
1908, the capture of each young Blarina ended the digging at 
that hole, but, in the cases where an adult was taken, the signs 
of occupancy continued until after the capture of a second. 
These two were male and female, evidently living together, 
although there w ere no signs of sexual activity. One female, 
taken September 21, had, as below, 5 embryos of about half- 
time development. 

ShuH's paper also implies that the species lives in pairs 
during w inter. Thus we are far on the way to proving life-long 

The diet of the Short-tailed Shrew is chieHy insects and 
worms, but it will eat any kind of living food that it can find 
and master, preying largely, as will be seen, on Field-mice, 
which equal or exceed it in weight. 

*Mam. Penna., 1903, p. 195. ' Quad. N. A., Vol. II, 1S40, p. 177 

Mole-shrew H'-ZB 

In the following are detailed the stomach contents of 13 
Blarinas taken at Cos Cob, Conn., 1908, by E. T. Seton, de- 
termined by A. Franklin Shull, of Columbia University, New 

1. Male. — Without date. Stomach: Earthworms, almost 
whole; membranous wings of insect (beetle). 

2. Female. — Without date. Very badly preserved. Pickled 
long after death apparently; hair nearly all off; that remain- 

Fig, 258 — Diagram of a typical burrow of Blarina brevicauda, showinKdiBtribution of snail 
shells, and an underground storage ciiamfK'r with spiral descent. The upper figure is a 
horizontal projection; the lower an ideal vertical section. The black circles in the 
upper diagram are fXiints where the burrow descended abruptly int'j the grr^iund, 

(By A, Franklin Shull). 

ing very loose. Gorged with connective tissue, cartilage, and 
muscle of ? Intestine filled with same material, diges- 
tive organs not properly functioning, or this would not be pos- 
sible. Or is this material indigestible ? 

3. Female. — September 21. Good condition; well pre- 
served stomach: Earthworm seta;; parts of insects; some of 
its own (Blarina's) hair, probably swallowed with food. Uterus 
contained 5 embryos, about 5 mm. long from caudal end 
to cervical flexure; probably between one and two weeks 

4. Male. — September 22. Skull crushed by trap; ex- 
cellent preservation. Stomach full: Earthworms, almost un- 
digested. Must have been preserved soon after death, the 
digestion having been largely prevented, and hair being firm. 

1126 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

5. Female. — September 22. Poorly preserved, had been 
dead some time before pickling. Stomach almost empty; 
earthworm setae only thing that could be identified; flesh 

6. Male. — September 22. Good condition. Stomach: 
Insects wholly; soft parts almost completely digested. 

7. Female. — September 22. Stomach: Insects only; small 
quantity. Must have been taken at same place as No. 6, food 
being precisely same [they were living together]. More com- 
plete digestion and poorer preservation indicate that it was 
dead longer before pickling. 

8. Female. — September 22. Fair preservation. Stomach 
nearly empty; legs of Isopod. 

9. Female. — September 22. Good health and well pre- 
served. Stomach: Muscles and setze of earthworm only. 

10. Male. — September 23. Well preserved. Stomach: 
Earthworms entirely. 

11. Female. — September 23. Well preserved. Stomach: 
Earthworms; insects probably. 

12. Female. — September 23. Liver somewhat inflamed 
and hardened, may have been due to injury in capture. Stom- 
ach: Isopod legs. What appear to be hyphae and sporangia 
of some fungus; parts of insects. 

13. Female. — September 25. No especial sexual develop- 
ment; in good condition, well preserved. Stomach: Earth- 
worms; some arthropod, probably a sow-bug, recognizable by 
chitinous pieces and legs; connective tissue and striated muscle 
probably of a small mammal (rodent .?) flesh found in teeth 
[doubtless the bait of the trap]. 

Merriam found the Blarina partial to beechnuts, and 
ready to eat corn and oats at a pinch." 

In a feed-box at one corner of an outbuilding I saw by the 
tracks that a Mouse came daily to steal crushed corn, so set a 
trap, and was surprised and sorry next day to find that the 
thief, already dead, was not a Mouse, but a female Blarina, 

"Mam. Adir., 1884, p. i6q. 



evidently nursing a brood, although this was July 2i. On 
examination her stomach was found crammed full of corn-meal 
unmixed with other food. 

It is notorious that insect-eaters turn putrid in a few hours, 
and yet this Shrew lay on my desk in warm weather from 
6 p. M. July 21, to noon July 22, 
without showing any signs of cor- 
ruption. From this I argue that 
she had lived on corn for many 
days previously. 

Numerous experiments and 
observations on captive animals 
prove that the Blarina, like its 
smaller kin, has an enormous ap- 
petite which must be satisfied or 
in a very few hours the creature 
succumbs. It makes no pretence 
at hibernation — is as active, in- 
deed, all winter under the snow, as 
in summer under the grass. How, 
then, does it support life when 
living food is so scarce ? The an- 
swer is not simple. 

Dormant insects undoubtedly 
form a large part of its suste- 
nance. As Dr. Merriam says,' and 
I have often proved, "the rigours 
of our northern winters seem to 
have no effect in diminishing its 
activities, for it scampers about 
on the snow during the severest 
weather, and I have known it to be out when the thermom- 
eter indicated a temperature of — 20 Fahr. ( — 29 C). It 
makes long journeys over the snow, burrowing down when- 
ever it comes to an elevation that denotes the presence of a 
log or stump, and I am inclined to believe that at this season it 

' Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 164. 

JUS iiy,Ai 

Fig. 259 — Blarina, Cos Cob, July 
Stomach crammed with grain — com t 

1128 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

must feed largely upon the chrysalides and larvae of insects 
that are always to be found in such places." 

The interesting experiments made at Ann Arbor, Mich.,' 
by A. F. ShuU, prove that, in winter, Blarina hrevicauda 
habitually feeds on snails of the genus Polygyra — that it 
gathers these into heaps as a sort of store, keeping them alive 
above ground and in underground dens. In two patches of 
dry swampland, each less than 20 acres, he found 40 of these 
heaps, with shells in each numbering from two or three to over 
one hundred. 

STORAGE I have frequently known it to kill and eat Field-mice, as is 

attested also by all naturalists who have studied the species. 

Yet, in view of the Mouse's superior agility, 

«^^4Ji' j^^^^ it seems unlikely that a Blarina could catch 

one every day, and the only stop-gap I can 

Fig. 260— Excrement of the . . r & r 

s^M^atoshSu"" ^^"^ discern is that already suggested by Mer- 

riam, viz., this Shrew not only eats nuts 

and grain, but stores them up for winter use. Writing of his 

captive, Merriam says:" "He is very fond of beechnuts, and 

thrived when fed exclusively on them for more than a week. 

"One evening, not long ago, I put a handful of beechnuts 
in his water saucer. He soon found them and carried them 
off. Part he buried in a hole under the saucer, part under his 
nest, and the rest in an excavation near one corner of the box. 
This certainly looks as if the animal was in the habit of hoarding 
for winter." 

We can readily imagine, then, that it is a perfect windfall 
for the Blarina when he discovers a fat colony of fat Mice with 
a tat store of food already laid up; for then, between murder 
and robbery, he can live happily for a month on a single find. 

The most curious case of storage among small mammals 
is ascribed by Bachman to this creature.'" After mentioning 
the long branching tunnels evidently made by the form caro- 

' Loc. cit., p. 514. ' Loc. cit., p. 169. 

'" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 177. 

Mole-shrew 1129 

linensis, he adds: "We observed on the sides of one of 
these galleries a small cavity containing a hoard of coleopterous 
insects, principally composed of a rare species {Scarabceus 
tityus), fully the size of the animal itself; some of them were 
nearly consumed, and the rest mutilated, although still living." 

All the Shrews are heavy drinkers, which is one reason for drink. 
their choice of habitat. The Blarina is no exception to this 

To our ears the cries of Bats and Shrews are much alike — voice 
a sharp, high-pitched twittering, or a screech as sharp and fine 
as a needle. Doubtless each emotion of each species has an 
individual and characteristic sound to express it, but such things 
are as yet beyond our poor powers of discrimination. When 
our inventors give us a practical field microphone we shall be 
able, doubtless, to enter a hitherto unexplored wonderland of 
sound, experiencing many new delights and, doubtless, also 
some new sorrows. 

Kennicott says" of the Mole-shrew which he had captive: 
"When hurt or irritated, it uttered a short, sharp, tremulous 
note, like zee-e, and when it was much enraged this note 
became longer, harsher, and twittering, like that of some 
buntings or sparrows. Sometimes a short, clear cry was 
uttered, the voice calling to mind that of the common Mink 
(Putortiis vison), but softer and lower." 

Correlating with its vocal powers, the Blarina is possessed hear- 
of exquisite hearing, associated with which is a fine discrimina- 
tion that stands between the creature and a world of false- 
alarms. A. F. Shull found that a captive specimen soon be- 
came oblivious to sounds that were often repeated. No matter 
how heavy, harsh, or piercing the noise, the Shrew soon learned 
to hear it with indifference. There was, however, one notable 
exception. "The flutter of wings of a pigeon kept in the same 
vivarium, on the other hand, always sent the Shrew skurrying 

" Quad. Ill, 1858, p. 96. 

1130 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

into its burrows. I observed this more than twenty times, at 
intervals throughout the five weeks of the Shrew's captivity, 
and the last flutter produced as much disturbance as the first. 
This particular sound must have been heard hundreds of 
times during that period, yet even at the last could not be heard 
with equanimity by the Shrew." '^ 

In this we read a story of perpetual danger from birds of 
prey, through past ages in the history of Blarina's race. 

TOUCH Its eyes are of use apparently only to distinguish light 

SIGHT from shade, but its exquisite hearing and sense of touch seem 
to compensate for the lack of vision, and to render it equally 
at home in the blazing sun, on the snow, in the midnight 
woods, or pursuing the Field-mouse to its lair far underground. 
It has, indeed, exchanged its sight for better touch, nor has it 
lost by the bargain; that I learned at Rat Portage, when 
collecting long ago. One line of traps consisted of pitfalls 
made by sinking pickle-jars in the mouse-runs. The run was 
fenced and roofed and smoothed to lend all baleful aid, and I 
caught many Mice and some Cooper Shrews, but never once a 
Blarina did I get; its senses, though limited in number, totalled 
up far better than those of the bead-eyed Mice it preyed on. 
The only Short-tailed Shrews I got were taken in cage-traps 
baited with fresh meat. 

Kennicott, after capturing a pair of these for obser- 
vation, wrote :'^ "While alive, the minute black eye is dis- 
tinctly seen and always open; but, though the sense of sight 
may be possessed in the dark, it certainly is not used in the full 
light. Upon waving difi^erent objects before one, or thrusting 
my finger or a stick close to its face, no notice was taken of it 
whatever; but if I made any noise near by, it always started. 
If the floor was struck, or even the air disturbed, it would start 
back from that direction. I observed no indication that an 
acute sense of smell enabled it to recognize objects at any 
considerable distance; but its hearing was remarkable. An 
exceedingly delicate sense of touch was exhibited by the 

^ Loc. cit., p. 513. "Quad 111., 1858, pp. 95-6. 

Mole-shrew 1131 

whiskers, and if, after irritating a Shrew, I placed a stick 
against it, in even the most gentle manner, the animal would 
instantly spring at it. I could see that, in running along the 
floor, it stopped the moment its whiskers touched anything; 
and often, when at full speed, it would turn aside just before 
reaching an object against which it seemed about to strike and 
which it certainly had not seen. Unless enraged by being 
teased, it endeavoured to smell every new object with which its 
whiskers came in contact, turning its long flexible snout with 
great facility for this purpose. 

" My caged specimens, both male and female, exhibited pug- 
great pugnacity. When I touched one several times with a 
stick, it would become much enraged, snapping and crying 
out angrily. When attacked by a Meadow-mouse {Arvicola 
scalopsoides), confined in a cage with it, one fought fiercely; 
and though it did not pursue its adversary when the latter 
moved oflF, neither did it ever retreat; but the instant the 
Mouse came close, it sprang at him, apparently not guided in 
the least by sight. It kept its nose and whiskers constantly 
moving from side to side, and often sprang forward with an 
angry cry when the Mouse was not near, as if deceived in think- 
ing it had heard or felt a movement in that direction. In 
fighting, it did not spring up high, or attempt to leap upon its 
adversary, as the Mouse, but jerked itself along, stopping 
firmly, with the fore-feet well forwards, and the head high. On 
coming in contact with the Mouse, it snapped at him, and, 
though it sometimes rose on its hind-feet in the struggle, I did 
not observe that it used its fore-feet as weapons of ofi^ence, like 
the arvicolcE. Its posture, when on guard, was always with the 
feet spread and firmly braced, and the head held with the 
snout pointing upwards, and the mouth and chin forwards, in 
which position its eyes would have been of no use, could it have 
seen. The motions of this animal, when angry, are char- 
acterized by a peculiar firmness; the muscles appear to be 
held very rigid, while the movements are made by quick, 
energetic jerks. Short springs, either backwards, forwards, or 
sidewise; appear to be made with equal readiness. 

1132 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"This Shrew is quite active as well as strong; the snout 
and head are powerful, and seem to be much used in burrowing; 
the tough cartilaginous snout received no injury from the rough 
edge of a pane of glass, under which that of a caged specimen 
was forcibly thrust in endeavouring to raise it. When liberated, 
upon a smooth floor, it runs rapidly, without ever leaping, 
placing only the toes on the surface; though in moving slowly 
the whole tarsi of the hind-feet are brought down. By placing 
an ear of corn over two inches in diameter at the edge of the 
room, and chasing a Shrew towards it by striking the floor 
behind the animal, I have seen one several times spring over it, 
apparently without great effort; but if not much frightened it 
would always go around objects an inch high, running close 
along them, as it did beside the wall, invariably feeling its 
way. One v/ould never leave the side of the wall to run 
across the room, and would always run around the side of its 
cage, rather than go across the middle." 

The Short-tailed Shrew is incapable of climbing or run- 
ning fast. It is, as we have seen, practically blind, does not 
smell well, is vulnerable at all points of its body, and yet it is 
an admitted success in life. It offsets all its shortcomings by 
a superlative development of hearing and touch, and a restless 
energy combined with indomitable courage, great muscular 
powers, and tireless activity, an equipment that makes it a fear- 
some beast of prey, a terror to all wild creatures of its small 
world, that are less than double its weight. 

The earliest account I can find of its exploits as a hunter 
of big game is by John Morden, of Hyde Park, Ont.'^ "In 
a trap set for Mice he found, at one time, a [Mole-]shre\v and 
two White-footed Mice, one of the latter being dead and about 
half eaten. 'The evening of that day the Mole was placed 
in an old laundry boiler and the entire dead Mouse given to it, 
which by morning was entirely eaten, bones and all, except the 
hair. We then gave the Mole a large rat just killed, when it at 

'* Can. Sport and Nat., December, 1S83, p. 283, quoted by Merriam, Mam. Adir., 
1884, p. 165. 

Mole-shrew 1133 

once proceeded to eat out its eyes, and by four o'clock next 
afternoon one side of the rat's head, bone together with the 
brains, were eaten, and, strange to say, the Mole looked no 
larger. * * * Our curiosity was aroused to know by what 
means a Mole or Shrew could kill Mice which were larger than 
itself; so four large Meadow-mice being procured, they were 
placed in the boiler with the Mole, which as soon as it met a 
Mouse showed fight, but the Mouse knocked it away with its 
front feet and leaped as far away as it could. The Mole from 
the first seemed not to see very plainly and started around the 
boiler at a lively rate, reaching and scenting in all directions 
with its long nose, like a pig that has broken into a backyard 
and smells the swill-barrel. The Mice seemed terror-stricken, 
momentarily rising on their hind-legs, looking for some place 
to escape, leaping about, squeaking in their efforts to keep out 
of the way of the Mole, which pursued them constantly. The 
Mole's mode of attack was to seize the Mouse in the region 
of the throat. This it did by turning its head as it sprang at 
the Mouse, at the same time uttering a chattering sound. The 
Mice would strike at and usually knock the Mole away with 
their front feet, but if the latter got a hold of the Mouse it 
would then try to bite, and they would both tumble about like 
dogs in a fight. The little chap at last attacked one Mouse 
and kept with it, and in about ten minutes had it killed; but 
even before it was dead the Mole commenced eating its eyes 
and face. About ten minutes later the Mole had devoured all 
the head of the Mouse and continued to eat. I have captured 
and caged several Moles this winter, and they all display the 
same untiring greedy nature. According to my observation, 
the little mammal under consideration eats about twice or 
three times its own weight of food every twenty-four hours, and 
when we consider that their principal food consists of insects, 
it is quite bewildering to imagine the myriads one must destroy 
in a year.'" 

Dr, Merriam repeated these experiments and found that 
a small Blarina weighing 11.20 grammes could tire out and 
overcome a vigorous male Deer-mouse weighing 17 grammes. 

1134 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The Blarina ate the brain, one side of the head, and part 
of the shoulder in fifteen minutes after the death of the Mouse, 
and immediately after the meal he weighed 12 grammes — an 
increase of .80 gramme.'^ 

"The Shrew was half an hour in tiring the Mouse, and 
another half-hour in killing him. But it must be remembered 
that he was not fully grown, and was doubtless, on this account, 
longer in capturing and killing his victim than would have been 
the case had he been an adult. Still, it is clear that a Shrew 
could never catch Mice on open ground. His small size, how- 
ever, enables him readily to enter their holes and to follow them 
to their nests and the remotest ramifications of their burrows, 
where, having no escape, he can slay them with fearful 

At Toronto on February 4, 1888, I collected an old Blarina 
whose tail was gone, probably in battle, so that they do not 
always go scot-free. 

The most desperate exploit accredited to one of this 
species is recorded by Professor E. D. Cope in the American 
Naturalist for August, 1873:"' 

"I recently [says he] placed a water snake (TropiJonotus 
sipedon) of two feet in length in a fernery which was inhabited 
by a Shrew, either a large Blarina carolinensis or a small 
Blarina talpoides. The snake was vigorous when placed in the 
case in the afternoon and bit at everything within reach. The 
next morning the glass sides of his prison were streaked with 
dirt and other marks, to the height of the reach of the snake, 
bearing witness to his energetic efi^orts to escape. He was then 
lying on the earthen floor, in an exhausted state, making a few 
inefi^ectual efi^orts to twist his body, while the Blarina was busy 
tearing out his masseter and temporal muscles. A large part 
of the flesh was eaten from his tail, and the temporal and 
masseter muscles, and eye of one side, were removed, so that 
the under jaw hung loose. The temporal was torn loose from 
the cranium on the other side, and as I watched him the 
Blarina cut the other side of the mandible loose and began to 

" Loc. cit., pp. 166-8. '° Vol. VII, No. 8, pp. 4(;o-i. 

Mole-shrew 1135 

tear the longicolli and rectus muscles. His motions were quite 
frantic, and he jerked and tore out considerable fragments 
with his long anterior teeth. He seemed especially anxious to 
get down the snake's throat (where some of his kin had prob- 
ably gone before), and revolved on his long axis, now with his 
belly up, now with his sides, in his energetic efforts. He had 
apparently not been bitten by the snake and was uninjured. 
Whether the Shrew killed the snake is of course uncertain, but 
the animus with which he devoured the reptile gives some 
colour to the suspicion that he in some way frightened him 
to exhaustion." 

Had it been a Mouse of the same size instead of the 
Shrew, the incident would undoubtedly have terminated the 
other way; but the strength, ferocity, activity, and courage 
of the Blarina are such that if it were increased to half the size 
of a tiger it might quite logically make tigers its habitual 

But even this valiant one has foes to fear. Hawks and ene 
owls of all kinds are ready to kill the Blarina and swallow it 
whole; while Lynxes and Weasels, dogs and cats rarely lose 
a chance of giving it a fatal nip or a crushing death-blow, 
although they are deterred from eating it by the rank odour 
that it emits, doubtless as a protection. 

Yet another class of foes it has, one that is too small for it 
to master, for the nursing female, already mentioned as taken 
July 21, was swarming with three different kinds of fur-lice. 

It is to be hoped that the farmer will never enlist himself 
against the Blarina. It may kill good bugs and bad bugs 
indiscriminately; it may take a little grain when nothing better 
is at hand, but the balance of benefit is far in the farmer's 
favour. All the evidence goes to show that its favourite food 
is Mice. For mouse-meat it will hunt and struggle without 
wearying, eschewing all other diet, when this is at all a possi- 
bility; and just so surely as the Mouse is the farmer's foe, so 
surely is the Blarina his good friend and worthy of active pro- 


Star-nosed Mole. 

Condylura cristata (Linnaeus). 
{Condylura, from Gr. kondylos, a knob; oura, tail; L. cristata, crested.) 

Sorex cristatus LiNN., 1758, Syst. Nat., X Ed., I, p. 53. 
Condylura cristata Desmarest, 1819, Journ. de Phys., 
LXXXIX, p. 2J0. 

Type Locality. — Pennsylvania. 

French Canadian, le Condylure a longue queue; la 
Taupe du Canada; le Condylure a museau etoile. 

The Family Talpidce or Moles are like the Shrews in their 
soft, velvety fur, their apparent lack of eyes, ears, and neck, 
their scanty-haired, scaly tails, and also in the general style 
of their teeth; but they differ in being much larger, and in 
having the front feet enormously developed for digging. 

The genus Condylura, founded by Illiger (181 1), for the 
present, its only known species, has, in addition to the Family 
characters, a remarkable fringe of 22 fleshy points or feelers 
around the nose; its tail is longer than in most Moles, being 
over half as long as the head and body. The teeth are: 

T 3-3 i-i 4-4 1 3~'i 

Inc. ^^-^: can. — ; prem. — ; mol. — = 44 

3-3 I -I 4-4 ^-i 

SIZE Total length, snout to tail-bone tip, about 7 inches (178 

mm.); tail, 3 inches (76 mm.); hind-foot, iiV inches (27 mm.). 

COLOUR Above, dull brownish-black, becoming paler and browner 

on chin, throat, and lower parts. 


Star-nosed Mole 


An adult male, taken at Cos Cob, Conn., July 7, 1909, 
weighed 24 grammes. 


The range of the species is fairly well worked out in the range 
south and east, but the northern and western boundaries, as 
shown on the map. No. 62, are 
sure to be greatly modified by 
fuller investigation. 

Dr. R. Bell gives it as com- 
mon at Moose Factory;' F. W. 
True records one from Moose 
Factory and one from Rupert 
House, James Bay;^ C. L. Her- 
rick secured a single specimen 
in Minnesota;' R. Kennicott 
mentions* its occurrence at Fort 
Ripley, Minn.; Bailey gives it 
as scarce at Elk River, Minn.^ 
At Duluth it is not uncommon; 
there is a local specimen in the 
High School Museum. 

It is entered as Manitoban, 
on the authority of W. R. Hine, 

who assures me that specimens have been brought to his 
taxidermist shop in Winnipeg; unfortunately, they were not kept. 

At Nipigon it was taken by G. S. Miller, who found it in 
seemingly abundance at Peninsula Harbor also." 

Outram Bangs records' the capture of a specimen at 
Lake Edward, south of Lake St. John, Quebec. But elsewhere' 

Fig. 261 — Skull of Star-nosed Mole (Condylura 

crislata). (li times natural size.) 
rom Ttue's Rev. Am. Moles, P. U. S. N. M.. 1897. Plate IV 

' Mam. H. Bay (1884), App. II, p. 48, D. D. Geol. Surv. Can., 1885. 

' Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., Vol. XIX (1896), 1897, p. 84. 

' Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 56. * Quad. 111., 1858, p. loi. 

' Rep. Cm. and Mam., U. S. Dept. Agr, (for 1887), 1888, p. 435. 

"Mam. Ont., Proc. Best. Soc. Nat. Hist., April, 1897, P- 39- 

' Proc. Bi. Soc, Wash., March 9, 1896, p. 51. 

' Mam. Labrador, Am. Nat., July, 1898, p. 497. 

Cond\)luTa cristala (Linn.). 

C. Hart Itoriam,"" ?['l5iofds? O.' Bin^ro*' SV^^.d^E. xT^'^n. ''"'" "" •^"'^"'"'" """^ "'*"="'• '^ ^^ ''''"'■ ^^ ''™"'^""' ^^ ^^ '"''^'• 


Star-nosed Mole 1139 

he gives a yet farther afield occurrence — a Star-nose from 
Rigoulette, on the coast of Labrador. His statement is as 
follows : 

" Goldthwaite saw and fully identified a Star-nosed Mole 
that the dogs caught at Rigoulette. As he assures me there 
is not the slightest chance of a mistake in his identification, 
the species must be included." 

Its environment is fairly well understood. It is the least envi- 
molish of its family, preferring swimming to digging, and a low ment 
meadow, a mossy bog, or even a wet marsh, to the most alluring 
of upland pastures. 

Commenting on the Lake Edward specimen, Bangs says: 

"No work of this Mole was seen anywhere. The one 
taken was caught in a cyclone trap set under an old log. 
Probably the animal lives below the deep layer of moss, with 
which everything is covered, and therefore gives no sign of its 

Nevertheless, it does not entirely avoid the drier fields, 
the ploughed lands, or even the garden, when making a side 
trip or seeking a new range. 

The home-range of the individual is probably about the home- 
same size as that of other Moles — an acre of swamp is sufficient. 
Here it will dwell in comfort for weeks or months, till famine, 
flood, or a strong invader compels it to depart to some other 
swamp a hundred long yards off. 

The Star-nose is remarkable among Moles in being socia- 
sociable, or at least gregarious, as these animals are known to 
live in colonies, which, judging from the results of their united 
labours, should contain at least a dozen individuals. Merriam 
speaks" of capturing 8 in one colony, and evidently did not 
exhaust their number. Elsewhere'" he refers to their being "in 
large colonies," and says he considers it one of the commonest 
Moles in the Adirondack region. 

• Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 148. '" Ibid., p. 150. 

1140 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

;g The species is supposed to pair. The matirfg takes place 

in November. It is signaUzed in a unique manner. As the 
neck of a Deer or the throat feathering of a ruff become 
greatly enlarged in the rut, so the tail of the Star-nose swells to 
double its usual size during the time of ardent passion. 

Dr. Harlan, not knowing of this periodic change, supposed 
the thick-tailed one to be a new species, and named it ma- 

A nest of this animal dug out by Audubon and Bachman'^ 
was approached by a long winding burrow, and situated in a 
. large excavation under a stump; it was quite "spacious and 
composed of withered grasses." 

G It contained "3 young, apparently a week old. The 

radiations in the nose were so slightly developed that, until we 
carefully examined them, we supposed they were the young 
of the common Shrew-mole." 

Other authorities set the number of young from 4 to 6. 
The history of their development is not further known. " Two 
or more litters are produced each season." '^ {Merriam.) 

s "If we may judge by its remarkable resemblance to that 

of the Muskrat [says Rhoads]," his tail is often brought to play 
in swimming. I have no doubt that the anatomy of this 
species, as well as its chosen habitat, infallibly indicates a much 
more aquatic life than we have yet been able to prove by actual 

This accords very well with my own experience. Two 
specimens which I got from Toronto marsh were taken while 
swimming in the water under the ice. 

On July 7, 1909, at Cos Cob, Conn., I received an adult 
male Star-nosed Mole captured alive by a stream, not in the 
water, but running along a mossy bank. 

" Fauna Americana, 1825, p. 39. 

" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 142. 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 152. '• Mam. Penna, 1903, p. 207. 

Star-nosed Mole 


With the help of a commodious cage I made a number 
of observations. When put in deep water he swam swiftly 
and strongly. He progressed largely by the sculling action of 
his tail, but also swam with all four feet, striking alternately, 
never by striking with both hind-feet at once, as most truly 
aquatic quadrupeds do occasionally. He did not dive, and 

Nasal Disk of Condylura. 
(Twice natural size.) 

Lower surface. 
2 — Snout of Condylura cristata. (Natural size.) 
rcom True. Proc. U. S. N. M.. XIX, 1897. 

always endeavoured to get out of the water as quickly as pos- 
sible. His fur got very wet and there was little to suggest 
adaptation to a truly aquatic life. 

He climbed fairly well in the corner of the cage where 
helped by the wire netting, but could not get up where the 
corner was of rough boards. While hanging from the wires 
his hind-feet were his chief support, but he was greatly helped 
by the tail, which was held woodpecker-fashion tight against 
the wall. He was much less of a climber than, for example, 
the Microtus. 

In the middle of each day he curled up and slept for two 
or three hours. At night he was very active. 

When given a pile of loose earth in which were many 
worms he showed great delight, and dived again and again 
through the pile, sometimes coming out with a worm, and 
suggested an Otter diving in a salmon river. 

114'2 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

His fur, previously rough and ill-kempt, was left beauti- 
fully velvety by this operation. 

NON- Of course the species is non-liibernant and is often 

NANT captured during its very active winter life. 

Merriam mentions^^ having seen it travelling over the deep 
snow in March; when so discovered, it tries to dive down out 
of sight, and readily does so, unless a hard crust bars the way. 

TUNNELS Its manner of tunnelling and heaving up hills is precisely 

like that of the Pocket-gopher, in whose biography the subject 
is fully treated. 

When the Star-nose dwells in or crosses dry ground, it 
seems not easy to distinguish its work from that of other Moles; 
both are marked by hills, large and small, on crooked galleries, 
that sometimes go below, and sometimes so near the top as to 
be ridges of loose earth. But in certain kinds of country it 
can live and leave behind no trace of excavation. 

An interesting circumstance is recorded by Miller.'" At 
Peninsula Harbor, Ont., in early October, he found the remains 
of a Star-nose in the stomach of a rough-legged hawk. 

A similar record appears in "Fisher's Report on the Food 
of Hawks and Owls."" 

A screech owl, taken at Washington, D. C, on June 2, 
1889, had in its stomach a Mole of the present species. 
FOOD Commenting on its food, Rhoads says:'* "As the boggy 

nature of its haunts is distasteful to earthworms and other 
animals on which the upland Moles subsist, we must conclude 
that these form but a small part of its diet, but the numerous 
aquatic and subaquatic insects and crustaceans which har- 
bour in wet meadows and stream banks would form bountiful 

As soon as the above-named captive was caged I gave 
him 12 grammes of common v/orms. He paid no heed for half 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 152. '" Mam. Ont., 1897, p. 39. 

"Bull. 3, 1893, U. S. Dep. Agr., p. 171. 
"Mam. Penna., 1903, p. 207. 

Star-nosed Mole 1143 

an hour, but then aroused himself and fell on the worms 
with great demonstration, continually twiddling them with his 
22 nose-fingers. Though avid, he ate them slowly, holding 
them with his fore-claws and tearing them up before devouring. 
In half an hour all were gone. This was at noon; at 1:45 
he seemed ravenous again. I gave him a similar amount of 
worms, also 3 cutworm 
grubs; these latter he 
ignored while the former 
lasted. Towards night 

1 gave the Mole about 

2 ounces of raw beef, of 
which ^ only was lean, 

the rest fat. In the Fig. .63-Scatolcgy of sear-nosed Mot 

morning all the lean was eaten and all the fat rejected. 
Now a newly killed Deer-mouse was offered to him. He 
sprang on this with much demonstration and little effect. 
After twiddling it all over, he began on the eyes and then ate 
the brains where the head had been crushed by the trap, turn- 
ing back the skin. By next morning the Deer-mouse (it weighed 
more than the Mole) was devoured, except the skin, which was 
neatly turned inside out, and the bones — even the smallest 
ribs were left intact and quite clean. During the previous 
evening he ate also 8 grammes of worms. I found, however, 
that he preferred the large fat white grubs that are found under 
manure piles {Lachnosterna fusca); for these he neglected 
both worms and Mouse. A large blue wasp he would not 
touch; also a stag-beetle and he lived amicably together till 
the end. He refused several kinds of farinaceous food. 

During the second night he escaped. I was awakened in voice, 
my room (one flight down) by hearing the patter of small feet ^^^ 
on the floor; as I stood near the window the sound came 
towards me and I felt a furry creature pushing under my naked 
instep. I stooped and seized it in the dark; a strong musky 
smell and a faint husky squeak informed me that I had re- 
captured my Star-nose. This was the only time I heard him 

1144 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

utter a sound. Possibly he was injured at this time, as he died 
next day. 

As the Star-nose feeds only on insects and worms, utterly 
eschewing seeds, roots, and all things vegetable, there can be 
no very serious charge against it. The disfigurement of lawns 
is the only one that has ever given it local outlawry; but most 
naturalists at least consider this fully offset by the good it does 
as a tiller of the soil on lands where there is no other husband- 


Little Brown-bat or Blunt-nosed Bat. 

Myotis luctfugus (Le Conte). 

(Gr. mys, mouse; otis, ear; L. lucis, of the light; jugus, one who flies from, a fugitive.) 

Vespertilio lucifugus Le Conte, 1 83 1, McMurtrie's Cuvier, 

An. King. I, p. 431. 
Myotis lucifugus MiLLER, 1897, N. Am. Fauna, No. 13, p. 59. 

Type Locality. — Georgia; probably near Riceboro, 
Liberty County. 

French Canadi.a.n, la Chauve-souris brunette. 
Cree, Pee-kwa-nah-djee' (applied to all Bats). 
OjiB., A h-pe-kwa-nah-djee' (applied to all Bats). 

The whole Family, Vespertilionidce, have simple noses, that 
is, without a leaf membrane; turbinal bones folded; palate 
deeply notched in front; molars with W-shaped cusps; tail, 
long and enclosed to the tip in a membrane or tail-web. 

The sub-family, Vespertilionince, have 6 lower incisors, 
and ears separate at base. 

All of the Manitoban Bats are in this sub-family. 

The genus Myotis (Kaup, 1829) comprises small, slender 
Bats, with hairy faces, tapering tragus, long tails, naked wings 
and tail membranes, and the following tooth formula : 

^ 2-2 i-i ■ x-2 , ^-^ 

Inc. ; can. ; prem. ^:^-^; mol. ^^-^=38 

The combination of 4 upper incisors with 6 upper pre- 
molars is important. 


1148 Life-histories of Northern Animals 


Length, from snout to tail-tip, 3 to 3I inches (76 to 89 
mm.); forearm, from elbow to wrist, if to if (35 to 41 mm.); 
tibia, 1% to ii (14 to 17 mm.); 
spread across wings, 9 to 10 
inches (229 to 254 mm.); ears, 
"short and pointed, reaching, 
when laid forward, barely to tip 
of the nose.'" (Miller.) 

In colour it is everywhere of 
a dull brown, paler below. 

In discussing a highly col- 
oured phase of the British Bar- 
bastelle, Sir Harry Johnston says:^ 
"In some other Vespertilionid 
Bats there is a tendency in the 
breeding season for the males to 
develop a rich yellow tinge in the 
lower half of the hair of the un- i^" 
der parts. It may be the same ten- 
dency which tinged the fur of this 
example with a purplish tone." 

This species closely resem- 
bles M. subulatus, but may be 
distinguished by its shorter ears, 
which do not reach to the end of 
the nose (instead of considerably 
over), and by its shorter, more ^"* 
rounded tragus (see Fig. 264.). 

Spread 9 to 10 inches. 
Colour, dull brown. 
AI. lucifugus. 

Same size and colour, 
hut ear and tragij= 
longer and slenderer. 

inches. Colour, black. 

Spread 12 to 13 inches 
Colour, dull brown 

Spread about 12 inches 
Colour, bright clea 
orange, with some sil 
ver tipping. /,. bo*i 

Spread 15 to 17 inches. 
Colour, yellowish .with 
silver tipping: the ear- 

Fig. 264— The Bats found in Manitoba, 
life size.) 

To serve as a key in diagnosing,' the specie 

Three races are recognized: 

luctfugus (LeConte), the 

typical form. 

alasccnsis Miller, darker in colour, and with longer ears. 
longicrus (True), like lucifugus, but larger, and with 

proportionately longer legs, and shorter ears and 


'N. A. Fauna, No. 13, 1897, p. 60. ^Brit. Mam., 1903, p. 104. 


M\)olis lucifugus (Le Conte). 

The outline shows the theoretical range. The spots are actual records; they are chiefly from H. Allen's Monograph and G. S. Miller's 
Revision, with others by Le Conte, O. Bangs, W. H. Osgood, S. N. Rhoads, C. Hart Merriam, J. A. Allen, E. A. Preble, and E. T. Seton. 


1150 Life-histories of Northern Animals 


RANGE The range of this well-known, yet mysterious, little creat- 

ure is nearly all of North America, excepting the tropics and 
the polar regions. The map (No. 63) sets forth these facts 
with black spots for the actual records. The only Manitoban 
specimen I have is from Poplar Point. 

ENVIRON- This is a cave Bat — the common species indeed of the 
MENT Mammoth Cave of Kentucky— and when no caves are available, 
it finds acceptable substitutes in hollow trees and farm build- 
ings, rarely frequenting towns. 

In old-established, happily placed hiding-places it is usual 
for many to congregate. Thus the species is gregarious and 
to some extent sociable, since the individuals profit by each 
other's company in the matter of warmth. 

sociA- In flight, the Little Brown-bat may be distinguished from 

its remote kin by its small size, its early evening appearance, 
and its erratic course. I do not know how to tell it from 

FLIGHT Oftentimes the chimney-swifts are out so late as to fly 

with this species. There are points of resemblance in their 
flight, though that of the swift is without the erratic dodging. 
Furthermore, it is usual to see 2 or 3 swifts careering along 
side by side — a sociable style that I have never seen in any Bat. 

VOICE The voice of this, and indeed of all our Bats, is an exceed- 

ingly fine squeak, finer than that of a Mouse, and often heard 
as they fly close overhead at night. When captured they 
utter a volley of these squeaks, varied with a hissing and 
fizzing sound. If a 'battery' be disturbed, they combine in a 
deafening and unpleasant chorus of squeaking and chirring, 
that reminds one of a nest of young swifts at food-time. 

It is a well-known fact that some persons, with otherwise 
perfect hearing, cannot hear a Bat's squeak. Millais writes:' 

' Mam. G. B. & I., Vol. I, 1004, p. 54. 

Little Brown-bat 1151 

"There is an odd superstition in Sussex that persons over 
40 years of age are unable to hear the cry of a Bat." 

According to Tyndall/ "the human ear is hmited in its 
range of hearing musical sounds. If the vibrations number 
less than 16 a second, we are conscious only of the separate 
shocks. If they exceed 38,000 a second, the consciousness of 
sound ceases altogether. 

"The range of the best ear covers about 1 1 octaves, but an 
auditory range limited to 6 or 7 octaves is not uncommon. 

"The sounds available in music are produced by vibra- 
tions comprised between the limits of 40 and 4,000 a second. 
They embrace 7 octaves.' 

"While endeavouring to estimate the pitch of certain sharp 
sounds. Dr. Wollaston remarked in a friend a total insensi- 
bility to the sound of a small organ-pipe, which, in respect to 
acuteness, was far within the ordinary limits of hearing. The 
sense of hearing of this person terminated at a note 4 octaves 
above the middle E of the pianoforte. The squeak of the Bat, 
the sound of a cricket, even the chirrup of the common house- 
sparrow, are unheard by some people who for lower sounds 
possess a sensitive ear. A difference of a single note is some- 
times sufficient to produce the change from sound to silence. 

"'Nothing can be more surprising,' writes Sir John 
Herschel, 'than to see two persons, neither of them deaf, the 
one complaining of the penetrating shrillness of a sound, while 
the other maintains there is no sound at all.' Thus, while 
one person mentioned by Dr. Wollaston could but just hear a 
note 4 octaves above the middle E of the pianoforte, others 
have a distinct perception of sounds full 2 octaves higher. The 
chirrup of the sparrow is about the former limit; the cry of the 
Bat, about an octave above it; and that of some insects, prob- 
ably, another octave. In 'The Glaciers of the Alps' I have 
referred to a case of short auditory range noticed by myself, 
in crossing the Wengern Alps in company with a friend. The 
grass at each side of the path swarmed with insects, which to 

* Sound, p. 81. 

° Each note has double the vibrations of its octave below. 

1152 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

me rent the air with their shrill chirruping. My friend heard 
nothing of this, the insect music lying beyond his limit of 

Birds, we know, are gifted with a great range of sounds to 
express their varying emotions. Shrews and Bats, being in 
general much more highly organized than birds, have probably 
a much greater range of sounds. 

There is every reason to believe that they have at least 
as many varied calls as a crow or a magpie, including even 
a song for the season of love; and yet, because of our dull ears, 
these things are in a sealed book, and the older we grow the 
more curtailed is our power of peeping even at the covers. 

There is little evidence on the mating of Bats. Each 
year in late August or early September they are seen in unusual 
numbers, rushing about and chasing each other in great ex- 
citement, for one or two evenings. Specimens collected at 
such a time show, by the enlarged sexual organs, that now is the 
rutting season. I saw this in a marked degree at Owen Sound, 
Ont., on August 17, 1889. About nine in the evening the Bats 
appeared in hundreds, and circled around the electric lights 
like swarming bees. They were chasing each other in the 
greatest excitement. I think that without doubt this was the 
rut. Next evening it seemed to be over, and the number of 
Bats went down to 3 or 4 in sight at one time. I am not sure 
what kinds predominated, but have little doubt that the present 
species was represented. I saw a similar demonstration at 
Cos Cob, Conn., September 7, 1906. 

GESTA- Gestation is unusually long in all of this group, and ap- 

parently 10 months in the present species, as the young are 
not born till June. C. L. Herrick says:" "Although northern 
species mate ordinarily in autumn, eggs are not fertilized until 
spring, when impregnation takes place." The observations on 
which this is founded are not given; it implies a number of 
unusual modifications. 

" Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 22. 


Little Brown-bat 1153 

The sum of many observations shows that the young are young 
usually 2 in number, but occasionally i, and, on rare occa- 
sions, 3. 

We have no direct light on the parturition of any of our partu- 
Bats, but the observations of M. Rolinat and Dr. E. Trouessart 
on Vespertilio murinus, a common Bat in France,' will afford 
valuable side-light. 

On June 9 they saw a captive female clinging to the wire 
of the cage, head up. The hind-legs were much spread; the 
tail was curved up in front. Her flanks were heaving and she 
seemed in pain. At 10 the left knee of the little one appeared. 
The mother made violent efforts to lick it and uttered a feeble 
cry like rapidly opening and shutting the lips. At 10:20 the 
body of the little one appeared. It was at once licked by the 
mother. At 10:30 the body, and immediately afterwards the 
head and front limbs came forth, and the new-born dropped 
into the sack made by the interfemoral membrane. The 
mother had been much agitated, but now grew calmer, and she 
licked the young one vigorously. Thus stimulated, it climbed 
out of the pouch and hung on to the old one's fur. At 10:55 
the mother turned nearly head down, and the young one seized 
the left teat, to which it continued attached for several days. 
It was blind at birth, but its eyes opened on the fifth day. On 
the thirteenth day it quit its mother's protecting wing, and 
thenceforth roosted much alongside. 

These observers conclude that it is the habit of the mother 
to carry her young one with her as she flies, until it is about 2 
weeks old, after which she leaves it at home in the den. 

At 35 days the one described above was still nursing. 

At 50 days it was eating cockroaches. 

At 2 months it no longer nursed, and would eat 34 to 37 
cockroaches each night. 

Rhoads says:^ "These [the young of lucifugus] cling by 
their mouths to the teats of the mother until large enough to 

' Sur la reproduction des Chauve-Souris, Mem. Soc. Zool. de France, 1896, IX, 
pp. 230-1 and 234. 

' Mam. Penn., 1903, p. 209. 

1154 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

grasp her body. Thus laden, she pursues her nightly avoca- 
tions until they can be left 'hung up' in some secret place till 
her return." 

None of our Bats is known to make anything in the 
nature of a nest. During the second period of their infancy, 
that is, till they are able to fly, the young remain at home, and 
are fed by the mother. When about three months old they 
fly and forage for themselves. 

The father is not known to help in rearing the young. 

Some curious observations on this Bat appear in Stone and 
Cram's "American Animals."" A number of the species used 
to spend the day behind the blind of an open window in their 
New Hampshire house. During August, 1898, an exact count 
was kept of their number, resulting in proof that they regularly 
congregated there Sunday nights, and grew fewer towards the 
middle of the week. The four weeks stood thus (Sundays are 
in heavy type) : 






















This periodicity may have been chance; it may have been 
that their alternate roost was in a church which was made 
intolerable to them by Sunday service, or it may point to some 
rotary food-habit, for which there are many precedents. It is 
indeed a rule for some predaceous creatures to hunt in diff^erent 
places at regular times, taking them in something like serial 
order, on a calendar dictated by the local attractions. 

The above record would have still greater value if it stated 
what proportion of each sex was represented each time. 

Its envied conquest of the realms of air seems the Bat's 
most wonderful gift. And yet more marvellous, though less 
spectacular, is its astonishing sense of touch, which, perhaps 

" Am. Animals, 1902, p. 199. 

Little Brown-bat 1155 

more often than its eyes, averts the wreck and ruin that im- 
petuous flight in gloomy woods might bring. 

It is needful, indeed, that these two fairy gifts should 
dwell in complement of each other. 

Writing of the wing-membrane, Harrison Allen says:'" 

"It is in this latter structure that the sense of touch 
chiefly resides. The bones of the extremities being covered on 
either side with an enduplication of skin, form a framework 
upon both sides of which the papillae of touch are extensively 
distributed. This function, in many places, is probably aided 
by the delicate hairs which are sparsely distributed linearly 
upon the under surfaces of the membranes. These may per- 
form a function analogous to that observed in the labial 
whiskers which are so prominent in the FeliJcc. Spallanzani 
was the first to notice the high development to which this sense 
had been brought in these animals. His experiment is well 
known, but will bear repetition here: 

" 'In 1793, Spallanzani put out the eyes of a Bat, and ob- sense- 
served that it appeared to fly with as much ease as before, and 
without striking against objects in its way, following the curve 
of a ceiling, and avoiding with accuracy everything against 
which it was expected to strike. Not only were blinded Bats 
capable of avoiding such objects as parts of a building, but they 
shunned with equal address the most delicate obstacles, even 
silken threads stretched in such a manner as to leave just space 
enough for them to pass with their wings expanded. When 
these threads were placed closer together, the Bats contracted 
their wings in order to pass between them without touching. 
They also passed with the same security between branches of 
tre&s placed to intercept them, and suspended themselves by 
the wall, etc., with as much ease as if they could see dis- 

Cuvier's explanation (1796) was that during the flight of 
the blinded Bat, the waves of air set in motion by its wings 
reacted against their acutely sensitive surface in proportion, 

'" Monog. Bats. N. .\., 1864, pp. xv-xvi. 
" Godman's Am. Nat. Hist., I, 1826, p. 57. 

1156 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

as it approached the sohd object from which these had 
recoiled, and thus the creature had timely warning. 

A comprehensive abstract of an article by Dr. Joseph 
Schobl, of Prague, regarding the sense-power of Bats, appeared 
in the American Naturalist for May, 1871:'- 

Dr. Schobl repeated the early experiments, but for the 
putting out of the eyes he substituted the more humane 
method of covering them with adhesive plaster. He kept 
Bats thus treated for a year alive in his room, and entirely 
confirmed Spallanzani's observations. 

The experiment was repeated in detail recently by A. 
Whitaker, of Barnsley, Eng. His observations are thus detailed 
by Millais:" "He obtained a Natterer's Bat and covered its 
closed eyes with wax, fastening it with a little patch of 
rubber and solution, and then released the Bat in a room in 
which it had not been before. When, on previous occasions, 
other Bats had been at liberty in this room, they had usually 
circled round close to the ceiling; but this blinded Bat at first 
flew in a hesitating manner, and then, gaining confidence, went 
straight towards the closed door. It stopped when about six 
inches away, and hovered slowly along the line of the top and 
right down the side, without doubt keeping its position through 
its sensitiveness to the slight draught which came through the 
tiny chink. Finding no opening large enough to get through, 
it flew quickly down the room towards the fireplace, no doubt 
again feeling the draught, but turned away when it felt the heat 
of the fire. It flitted then close to the wainscot, hesitating re- 
peatedly at a spot where the woodwork was a little sprung, and 
there was again a sensible draught. It flew quickly, passing 
under chairs, of which there were twelve in the room besides 
other furniture, and never even touched anything with the tips 
of its wings. An attempt to catch it showed that, although 
incapable of sight, it was well able to dodge; but it constantly 
stopped in its flight, hovered, and scratched at the covering over 
its eyes. When a stick was held in its direct path, it avoided it 

"Am. Nat., Vol. V., No. 3, May, 1871, pp. 174-';. 

" Mam. G. B. & I., Millais, igo4-.s-6, Vol. I, pp. 96-7. 

Little Brown-bat 1157 

when three or four inches away. When it wanted to rest it 
settled on one of the weights of a gas chandeher in quite an 
orthodox manner, and when a hand was stretched out to capt- 
ure it, it flew off again before it was touched. This experi- 
ment is interesting, especially when we hear that the animal's 
sight was in no way injured when the wax was removed; it 
shows that the power of ascertaining the presence of an object 
does not depend entirely upon sight, and that the difference of 
air pressure was perceptible by the animal." 

"To account for these phenomena [says Merriam]'* the 
wings of Bats have been examined for peculiar nerve endings, 
by Cuvier, Leydig, and Krause, but without any success. The 
alithor's discoveries are therefore quite new to science. The 
following is a short abstract of his [Dr. Schobl's] results. 
The Bat's wing-membrane consist of 2 sheets of skin, the upper 
derived from that of the back, the lower from that of the belly. 
The epidermic and Malpighian layers in each sheet remain 
separate, while the true skin is inseparably fused. In this fused 
medium layer are imbedded the muscles, nerves, vessels, etc., 
of the wing. * * * The whole wing is covered, both on the 
upper and under surface, with extremely fine, sparsely scattered 
hairs. * * * Each hair-sac has from 2 to 7 sebaceous glands, 
according to the species, and one sweat gland opening into its 
sac. The 2 outer fibrous layers of the hair-sac have no sharp 
line of demarcation to separate them from the surrounding 
connective tissue, but the inner, or hyaline coat, is highly de- 
veloped, and, after being constricted beneath the hair bulb, 
widens out and encloses the sense-bodies (Tastkorperchen),one sense- 
of which organs is connected with each hair. 

"The nerves of the wings may be considered to consist of 
5 layers, /. e., there is one occupying the centre of a transverse 
section of the wing, which gives off on each side of it 4 others, 
and these are successively finer and finer as they approach the 
opposite surfaces. The inner layer and the one immediately 
on each side of it consist of nerve fibres with dark borders, the 
other layers of pale fibres only. The tastkbrperchen are con- 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 185-7. 

1158 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

nected with the second layer. The fifth layer, of finest fibres, 
ends as a network between the innermost layer of cells of the 
Malpighian layer of the epidermis. The tastkorperchen are 
shaped like a fir-cone with a rounded apex turned inwards. 
They lie immediately below the root of the hair; and their core, 
or central substance, is formed of a prolongation of the cells 
forming the 2 root-sheaths, of the hair. Their length is 0.0259, 
and their breadth 0.0175 mm. A nerve containing about 6 
dark-edged fibres is distributed to each korperchen. Just 
before the nerve reaches this organ it splits into 2, and 3 fibres 
pass to one side of it, 3 to the other. The fibres are then 
wound round the body so as to sheath its cellular core. Dr. 
Schobl thinks it probable that the fibres on one side are con- 
tinuous with those on the opposite side, and that there is thus 
a bipolar arrangement here. He attributes to the fine network 
of pale nerve fibres belonging to the fifth layer the appreciation 
of temperature, pain, etc.; to the tastkorperchen the highly 
exalted sense of touch. It is curious that both kinds of nerve 
endings are connected with the Malpighian layer of skin." 

Some have sought to prove that the greatly developed ears 
were the organs of this far-feeling, but the sum of evidence 
goes to show that in nearly all parts of its skin the Bat has 
these highly developed nerve endings which endow it with such 
exquisite sensibility. 

The purpose of the antitragus has been supposed by some 
to be closing the tragus, to protect its ear, while the animal 
slept. But Millais points out that during sleep it hangs out- 
wards, leaving the ear still wider open. 

The flight of all Bats is ideal; their mastery of the air 
is perfect; far better, indeed, than that of most birds. I am 
almost tempted to say, than that of any bird. Nothing but 
recollections of swallow and falcon restrain the phrase. In one 
way at least the Bat excels even these — his flight is absolutely 
silent. He skims and darts and turns within a foot of one's 
head, but never a swish of his wings is heard. The only bird 

Little Brown-bat 1159 

that can approach him in silence is the slow, lumbering owl. 
I have heard it passed as a compliment to a certain owl — his 
flight recalled that of a big Bat. 

A curious circumstance that at first sight looks like an 
exception to this rule is thus commented on by Merriam:''' 

"In localities where we had hunted Bats for some time 
Dr. Fisher and I have on several occasions heard a Bat, 
when swooping overhead, produce a sound which was dis- 
tinctly audible at a distance of several paces. But in each 
instance, if the Bat rose against the clear western horizon, we 
saw the light shine through numerous perforations in its wings, 
and the noise was unquestionably produced by the whistling 
of the air through these shot holes." 

During a recent motor trip, near Naples, I had an oppor- speed 
tunity of gauging the speed of certain Bats. About sun- 
down a considerable number of them appeared; they were of 
two sizes. The larger easily kept pace with the motor-car which 
was going 20 miles an hour; the smaller dropped behind. 

So far as known, all our Bats are exclusively insectivorous, food 
The Shrew may eat fruit, the Blarina may vary his diet of 
worms with nuts and grain, but the Bat at all times and places 
is found destroying only the little foemen that men hate. 

The evidence relating to the British Long-eared Bat may 
help us to a knowledge of Bat foods in general. This species 
is known to feed on moths and the largest insects, and J. G. 
Millais says" that "when capturing its prey, the Long-eared 
Bat, in common with several other species, uses the inter- 
femoral pouch as a trap or bag in which to hold its captive 
until it is firmly gripped." 

He cites several instances to show that Bats do this either 
when taking insects on the wing or picking them off flowers and 

All our Bats are great drinkers, going twice a day at least 
to the water and indulging in copious draughts. It is probable 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 188. '" P. 47- 

1160 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that this and all our species have 2 feed times each day — one 
at sundown, one before sunrise. Never by any chance do they 
work between meals, but return to their dens to repose, thus 
living a life that, according to some of our prophets, is ideal. 
TOILET The behaviour of this Bat when performing its toilet is 

thus described by Stone and Cram:" 

"One near the middle of the row was wide-awake; washing 
himself after the manner of a cat, he would lick his foot or a 
portion of his wing and rub his head with it the wrong way of 
the fur, and scratch himself rapidly behind the ear with one of 
his little thumb nails at the bend of his wing, the long bone of 
his forearm beating a tattoo on the glass beside him as he did 
so. The elasticity of the wing-merribrane is truly astonishing; 
he would seize an edge of it in his mouth and stretch it into all 
kinds of grotesque shapes in his endeavour to get it clean 
enough to suit his fancy, and sometimes, when at work on the 
inside, he would wrap his head up in it entirely, the thin 
rubbery stuff conforming to the general outline of his skull in 
the most startling manner." 

SLEEP- " The method of alighting is first by the wing or arm-hooks, 

head upward, assisted by the hind-feet. As soon as the latter 
are firmly implanted, the Bat turns head downwards and hangs 
by the sharply recurved nails of the hind-feet."'* {Rhoads.) 
Millais says '° of the Greater Horse-shoe Bat in England: 
"When this Bat is preparing to sleep, it begins to doze 
gradually, nodding its head a little and ceasing to look about; 
finally, its head falls and hangs straight, and the whole animal 
commences to shiver. This muscular movement soon ceases, 
and the animal is asleep." 

STRANGE The singular specialization of Bats is further evidenced 

NiTY in the following remarks by Sir Harry Johnston on the Noc- 

tule, a British kins>man of the present species:-" "It would 

seem to possess a relative insensibility to the effects of poison. 

" American Animals, 1902, p. 199. '" Mam. Penn. and N. J., 1903, p. 209. 

" Mam. G. Br., 1904-6, Vol. I, p. 30. =" Br. Mam., 1903, p. 89. 


Little Brown-bat 1161 

One living specimen had a drop of prussic acid placed on its 
tongue, and was some time dying. Meantime, its parasites 
(all Bats are much afflicted with fleas and lice) dropped off 
dead from the poisoned blood." 

With flight equal to that of birds, why should not these in- migra- 
sect-eaters migrate when cold weather cuts off the food supply ? and 

Such light as we have indicates that all of our 6 species of 
Bats are migratory, and yet hibernate. If we divide the range 
of the present species in 3 equal parts along the lines of 
equal temperature, we shall find that in summer the bulk of it 
is in the middle and north parts; in winter, is found in the 
south and middle parts; and, wherever it is, the individuals 
hibernate during frosty weather, but are always ready to come 
forth from cave and hollow tree and resume active life as soon 
and so long as the temperature permits. 

Instances of this I noted at Wyndygoul Park in the fall of 
1908. One or two small Bats were about each night after 
sundown through September and early October. In the mid- 
dle of the latter month were two or three frosty nights, during 
which no Bats were seen. On the i6th the weather was warm 
again and I saw a small Bat on the wing; another on October 
18; none afterwards. This, it seems to me, almost proves that 
these Bats went into a temporary cold-sleep during the frosty 
spell, but took advantage of the later warm days to migrate 
southwards, since they are not known to torpify for all winter. 

From the nature of their haunts, the Bats have little to enemies 
fear from larger enemies by day, and through the power of their 
flight they are safe from most flyers by night. The fact that 
bat-remains have been found in owl-pellets is of sinister signifi- 
cation, but must have been exceptional, for I should as soon 
expect a Bear to catch a Jack-rabbit as an owl to capture a Bat 
in open space. 

The worst known enemies of the group are undoubtedly 
fur-lice. Dr. Harrison Allen remarks:"' 

" Monog. Bats. N. A., 1864, p. xxi. 

1162 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"The fact mentioned above of the numerous parasites 
infesting Bats is perhaps the most revoking feature in these 
creatures. The enormous population oi Acan found upon their 
bodies is due to the great generation of animal heat in their 
close haunts, a condition conducive to a rapid increase of all 
kinds of vermin. In this country the common bed-bug {Cimex 
lectularis) is frequently found upon their fur. The entrance 
of a Bat with its precious burden into the open window of a 
farm-house is the solution of that frequently propounded 
question of the despairing housewife — 'Where can the bugs 
come from ?'" 

It is only fair to these much misunderstood and maligned 
creatures of the night to add that no one else has remarked it, 
and many observers, including so good an authority as S. N. 
Rhoads, discredit the bed-bug theory altogether. 


Say Bat. 

Myotis subulatus (Say). 
(L. subulatus, from subula, an awl, noting the awl-shape of the tragus.) 

Vespertilio subulatus Say, 1823, Long's Exp. Rocky Mts., II, 

p. 65. 
Myotis subulatus Miller, 1897, N. Am. Fauna, No. 13, p. 75. 
Type Locality. — Arkansas River, near La Junta, Colo. 

French Canadian, la Chauve-souris de Say. 

This species so closely resembles M. lucifugus that 
naturalists did not recognize their distinctness until recently. 
The most obvious difference is in the relative length of the ears, 
which, when drawn forward, do not reach the end of the muzzle 
in lucifugus, while in subulatus they overlap it by iV to tV 
of an inch (2 to 5 mm.). But the long thin tragus is equally 
distinctive (see Fig. 264, p. 1148). 

Two races are recognized: 

subulatus Say, the typical form. 

keeni Merriam, with longer ears and tail, and darker 


It has not been taken in Manitoba, but it will be seen by 
the map (No. 64) that the Province falls within the probable 
range of the species. 



Myolh subulalus (Say). 

Th- millinc in Eastern Amcrira is Ihc Ihcori-liral r:in|.'. -I llu u ,,;. ,1 f,,rm. The outline on tlic West Coast is the tlicorctical range of the 
dark race, krrtri (Mcrriaiii); it is supi«>seil M meet and mingle « L. 1. iili ulmlalus. 

The sp 4s are all llie aelual records that seem to >«• 1 ' ,1, :n,iuished from those ol lurihigus. Thev are rhiefly from G. S. Miller's 

Revision, and H. .Mien's Monograph, with otliers by S. N. Rhi.a.i . c . II an Merriam, J. Richardson, J. Rowley, and O. Bangs. 


Say Bat 1165 

It is much rarer than M. luafugus, and we have but Httle 
light on its habits. 

At Lake Nipissing, Ont., it seems to be common, which is 
somewhat of a surprise. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr., who found it 
there, says:* 

"At North Bay I shot 5 of these Bats as they flew along 
the roadways through the woods at dusk. One evening I saw 
several feeding among the tops of some tall birches, to the 
twigs of which they would cling for an instant while picking off 
their prey." 

' Mam. Ont., Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., April, 1897, P- 39- 

Silvery-bat, Silver-haired Bat or Black-bat. 

Lasionycteris jjoctivagans (Le Conte). 

{Lasionyclcris, from Gr. lasios, hairy; nycieros, a bat, and L. noctivagans, from nociis, 
of the night; vagans, wandering.) 

Vespertilio noctivagans Le Conte, 1 83 1, McMurtrie's Cuvier, 

An. King., I, p. 431. 
Lasionycteris noctivagans Peters, 1 865, Monatsb. Akad. 

Berlin, p. 648. 

Type Locality. — Eastern United States. 

French Canadian, la Chauve-souris argent'ee. 

In addition to the Family and sub-family characters, the 
genus Lasionycteris (Peters, i865) has short broad ears, broad 
tragus, and partially furred tail-flap, 2 mammae, and teeth as 
follows : 

T 2-2 i-i 2-2 , -z-:^ . 

Inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. =30 

1-3^ i-i l-l l-i 

The present species is the only member of the genus. 

SIZE In length it is 3I to 4^ inches (95 to 105 mm.); forearm, 

about if inches (42 mm.); tibia, about | of an inch (16 mm.); 
tail, about equal to forearm; spread, about 11^ inches (292 
mm.). For head, see Fig. 264, p. 1148. 

COLOUR Fur, very dark brown, silver-tipped with white; this frost- 

ing confined chiefly to the back, and more conspicuous in the 




young than in the adult. I have in my collection an old 
female (New York State) without any silver tipping — brownish- 
black everywhere. 


From Miller's Revision, N. A, Vesp. Bals, 
p. 85. Fauna 13. Biol. Surv. U. S, 
Dept. Agr. 

This and certain other Bats are the only mammals in Amer- range 
ica that range from the Atlantic to Pacific in a belt 1,000 miles 
wide, without splitting up into several races. Obviously, their 
wonderful powers of flight combine 
with wandering habits to keep the 
population thoroughly mixed. 

All of Manitoba falls within its in man- 


breeding range; the spots on the map 
show the actual records. 

"Like many other Bats, it has a envi- 
decided liking for water-ways, coursing ment 
up and down streams and rivers, and 
circling around lakes and ponds. In 
some places its habit of keeping directly 
over the water is very marked. At 
Lyon's Falls [on Black River, N. Y.] it is exceedingly abun- 
dant, particularly just below the Falls. I have stood, gun in 
hand, on a point on the east bank of the river, and have seen 
hundreds passing and repassing, flying over the water, while 
during the entire evening not more than two or three strayed 
so far that if shot they would fall on the land."' 

Over the Red River where it runs through Winnipeg City 
is a favourite flying place for this Bat. All the summer long, 
in the evenings, they may be observed hawking for their prey in 
this inviting open place. 

At Calgary, I was told by G. F. Dippie, it is abundant. 
In the vicinity of Toronto, the Don Valley and the Credit 
River Valley were evidently much to its taste. There I found 
the species in swarms during the August twilight. But any 

' Merriam, Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 188. 


Lasionyclem noclivagans (Le Conte). 

. The unbroken outlines show the theoretical range. It is probable that it breeds in this area north of the dotted line, but winters in the belt 
that IS south of it. I he spots show the actual records; they are chiefly from H. .Mien's Monograph, G. S. Miller's Revision, and O. Bangs's papers on 
Labrador and Honda, with others by R. MacFarlanc. C. H. Townscnd, \V. H. Osgood, V. liailcy, S. N. Rhoads, and E. T. Seton. 

Silvery-bat 1169 

opening near the woods seemed in some degree an acceptable 
hunting ground. 

Nothing is known of the individual range of any of the individ- 
Bats, but, gifted with such powers, they doubtless emulate range 
those birds that range for miles to seek their favourite food. 
All the circumstances of their environment, habits, food, and 
powers, emphasize their analogy to the swallows. The Bats 
are the swallows of the night, and light on the home-range of 
the swallows will be side-light on the home-range of the Bats. 

Like most of our mammals, they are subject to fluctua- 
tions of their numbers in periods covering several years. Thus 
the Silvery-bat was common at Winnipeg in 1905 and 1906, 
but only one was reported all through the season of 1907. 
These variations of the population are wholly uncomprehended; 
indeed, the first step towards comprehension — exact observa- 
tions on their time, etc. — has not yet been taken. 

The remarks on the voice of the Little Brown-bat apply voice 
equally to this one. 

All of our Bats, except the Hoary, are known to gather grega- 


together in numbers when lured by some especially desirable 
and commodious dormitory. In the Seneca Point 'battery,' 
described later, 9,640 Bats, by actual count, were killed, be- 
sides nearly 2000 not included, before the colony was extirpated. 
It is probable that most were of the present species. 

Thus, while highly gregarious, they are also slightly soci- 
able, since they profit by each other's company. 

The rut is believed to be in late August or early September, rut 
as with others of the family, but there are several unwritten 
chapters in this department of the vespertilion history, and 
attempts to write them have resulted in the discovery of new 
mysteries to be solved. 

The male takes no part in the rearing of the young; in 
fact, he is conspicuously absent at all times when the female 

1170 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

does not actively interest him. Dr. Merriam, commenting on 
this remarkable circumstance, says:^ 

"Out of 85 adult specimens killed in Lewis County during 
the past summer (1883) there was but a single male. Two 
other males were killed in the early autumn. Of 32 yoyng 
killed during the same period, there were 19 males and 13 
females, showing that the disproportion does not exist at birth. 

1 am at a complete loss to explain this enormous preponderance 
of females among the adults. At first I was inclined to think 
that the sexes separated during the period of bringing forth and 
caring for the young, but, although we visited a number of 
different localities, we were never able to find the males. 
Thinking that they might not fly until early morning, I several 
times went out before daylight, but females only were killed." 

Since it is desirable to offer a theory, I suggest first, that 
the species is eminently polygamous, and second, that, like 
Wapiti, Mountain Sheep, pheasants, and sundry other polyg- 
amous species, the male associates with the female only during 
the procreative season, passing the interval in distant regions, 
usually higher and further north or otherwise less crowded with 
their own kind, as well as freer from insect plagues. 

The great apparent increase of the Bat population in late 
August, therefore, is a real increase caused by the arrival of the 
flocks of males. 

If this theory is sound, we should discover far north, or up 
in the mountains, great numbers of males that are there all 
summer, unassociated with females. 

GESTA- Gestation lasts apparently ten months. Young are usually 

2 in number, but sometimes only i. In the Adirondack region, 
according to Merriam, they are born during the first week of 


" Females," he says,' " killed during the latter part of June, 
were heavy with young, but up to July i not one had given 
birth to its offspring. All that were killed after July 4 had 
already been in labour and were then suckling their young. 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 190. ' Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 190. 


Silvery-bat ini 

Of 3 females shot June 30, 1883, one contained but a single 
embryo, and the others, 2 each. All were nearly ready for 
extrusion, and would doubtless have been born within 48 

This is a Bat of hollow trees, but I have known it to har- 
bour in a thicket of spruce boughs high up from the ground, 
as well as in the lumber piles at Winnipeg. 

The mother Bat does not prepare any nest for the young, 
but avails herself of such ready-made accommodations as she 
can find. 

The most unexpected lodging of the species and nursery 
for the young is that detailed by Dr. Merriam, as follows:* 

"Frank Hough tells me that when looking for young 
crows some years ago in the deep ravine that runs through the 
village of Lowville, in Lewis County, he espied a crow's nest 
in a large and densely foliaged hemlock. On climbing the tree, 
he found the nest to be an old one, and commenced tearing it to 
pieces, when, to his astonishment, he discovered 13 young Bats 
embedded in the sticks and litter of which it was composed. 
These Bats were taken home and shown to several members 
of the family. Their eyes were not yet open. They were, of 
course, the progeny of a number of females, and presumably 
were of the species now under consideration, because it is by 
far the most common in the region. 

"The young * * * commence to fly when three weeks young 
old. Those killed on the first evening of their appearance 
averaged 90 mm. [3I inches] in length by 261 mm. [io| inches] 
in stretch, but weighed only half as much as their parents. 
The adults average about 104 mm. [4I inches] in length by 
302 mm. [11 5 inches] in stretch. When on the wing, the 
young may be distinguished from the old by the weakness 
and hesitancy of their flight, rather than by the difi^erence in 
size. The young are much more beautiful than the adults, 
and they alone possess the perfect silvery tips to the hairs 

* Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 190. 

1172 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

from which the species derives its name. Even before going 
into winter quarters their soft silvery backs have given place 
to the grizzly coats that characterize the adults." 

They are full grown by September; thus their very long 
gestation is offset somewhat by a rapid growth to adoles- 

From sunset till black dark is the evening twilight, ap- 
proximately equalled by the corresponding time before sunrise. 
The duration of this half-light varies of course with each day 
and at each latitude. In illustration Professor F. L. Blake, 
of Toronto Observatory, has supplied me with the following 
table of evening twilight at his station. Sunset is given in 
standard time, 75thmeridian. Thetable is forlatitude43°,4o'N. 

March ist, Sun sets 6.05 p.m. Twilight lasts for i h. 39 m. 

April 1st " " 6.44 " " " " I h. 44 m. 

May 1st, " " 7.19 " " " " I h. 56 m. 

June 1st, " " 7.52 " " " " 2h. 24 m. 

July 1st, " " 8.03 " " " " 2h. 30 m. 

August 1st, " " 7.41 " " " " 2 h. 06 m. 

September 1st, " " 6.55 " " " " i h. 48 m. 

October ist, " " 6.00 " " " " i h. 41 m. 

The morning period is of about the same duration. These 
two twilights are the time of the Bats, and all the evidence we 
have goes to prove that it is the exception when they are 
abroad in black darkness. 

It is probable that each species is adapted to a certain 
measure of light, and those that come out early do not stay late. 

All must vary their habits with the ever-varying twilight, 
but, broadly speaking, we can arrange the species in a scale 
of crepuscularity, giving each an hour for its food-hunt and 
leaving out the Say Bat, as not reliably observed. It is 
worthy of note that the Bats come out nearly in order of size, 
and that a similar scale and remark will probably be found to 
fit our night-flying insects. 



Little Brown-bat 




Big Brown-bat 




Bat scale for evening early in August, near Toronto, Can., sun setting just before 8. In the morning it is 
probably reversed. (This is, of course, diagrammatic rather than literal.) 

There seems little doubt that each of our Bats gathers all meals 
its food in the two twilights, retiring between times to its lurk- 
ing place all day and all night. Moonlight probably has a 
modifying effect. 

The following interesting record, by M. Figaniere, ap- habits 
peared in Allen's "Monograph."^ It is not by any means cer- 
tain which kind of Bat was meant; the probabilities are that 
there were several species, with the present one predominant, 
since he twice calls them very small and very black: 

"In the winter of 1859, having purchased the property 
known as Seneca Point, on the margin of the North-east River, 
near Charlestown, in Cecil County, Md., we took possession of 
it in May of the next year. * * * Having been uninhabited 
for several years, it exhibited the appearance, with the excep- 
tion of one or two rooms, of desolation and neglect. * * * 
The weather which was beautiful, balmy and warm, invited 
us towards evening to out-door enjoyment and rest after a 
fatiguing day of travel and active labour; but chairs, settees, 
and benches were scarcely occupied by us on the piazza and 
lawn, when, to our amazement, and the horror of the female 
portion of our party, small black Bats made their appearance in 
immense numbers, flickering around the premises, rushing in 
and out of doors and through open windows. 

"* * * Evening after evening did we patiently, though not 
complacently, watch this periodical exodus of dusky wings into 

" H. Allen, Monog. Bats N. A., 1864, pp. xvii-xviii. 

1174 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

light from their lurking places. * * * Their excursions invaria- 
bly commenced with the cry of the 'whippoorwill,' both at 
coming evening and at early dawn, and it was observed that 
they always first directed their flight towards the river, un- 
doubtedly to damp their mouse-like snouts, but not their 
spirits, for it was likewise observed that they returned to play 
hide-and-seek and indulge in all other imaginable gambols, 
when, after gratifying their love of sport and satisfying their 
EXTERMi- voracious appetites (as the absence of mosquitoes and gnats 
MosQui- testified),' they would re-enter their habitations, again to emerge 
™^^ at the first signal of their feathered trumpeter. I thus ascer- 
tained one very important fact, namely, that the Bat, or the 
species which annoyed us, ate and drank twice in twenty-four 

So far as known, all our Bats live on insect food captured 
and eaten while the Bat is on the wing, but the insect itself may 
be either flying or perched on a flower or leaf. 

Some general remarks on methods of capture are given in 
the chapter on M. lucifugus, but are equally applicable here. 

There is, however, one little ceremony with which it pre- 
ludes every meal; and this observation applies certainly to 
Myotis and Lasionycteris, and probably to all the others. On 
leaving its den it flies first and straight to the nearest river or 
pond and there drinks copiously as it skims over the surface. 
Merriam says of this species, as he observed it in the Adiron- 

"In the early dusk the Silver-haired Bat emerges from its 
hiding place. After a few turns about the immediate neigh- 
bourhood it generally takes a pretty direct course for water. 
I have seen it start from the summit of a high densely wooded 
hill, circle around for a few minutes, and then, keeping far 
above the tree-tops, sail leisurely towards a distant river till lost 
from sight in the valley below. And, standing on the banks of 
the large stream that winds along the foot of this hill, I have 
seen the Bats flying over at a height of several hundred feet, all 
moving in the same direction — towards a more distant river." 

' Ilalics mine.— E. T. S. ' Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 189. 

Silvery-bat 1175 

A past master in the air and fairly active on tree trunk and swim- 
ground, the Silvery-bat rounds out its accomplishments by ^^^° 
swimming fairly well. Dr. Merriam speaks of shooting some 
of them over the river at Lyon's Falls, N. Y. : 

"Several that were wounded and fell into the water^ [says 
he], at a distance of 15 or 20 feet from the bank, swam ashore. 
They swam powerfully and swiftly, for the current is here quite 
strong, and would otherwise have carried them some distance 
down stream." 

This remark will doubtless be found applicable to all our 
Bats, as their European relatives, without exception, are known 
to be strong swimmers, though they never voluntarily take to 
the water. 

There is no doubt a host of creatures that would destroy enemies 
the Bat if they could catch it, but safe in its cave by day and 
safe on its wings by night, it stands in awe of very few. A 
record in Fisher's "Food of Hawks and Owls" (p. 178) shows 
that the winged tiger of the woods does indeed prey on this 
Bat, but there is no telling how it secured the squeaker of the horned 
lightning wing. It may have been an accident or it may be 
there is a weird unwritten chapter of o^l audacity awaiting the 
careful student of birds. 

It is well known that an exceptionally dull day or afternoon moon- 


will temper the light down to the requisites of the Bats, and 
bring many forth long before their appointed hour. There 
is every reason to suppose that moonlight may similarly 
change their habits; but hitherto we have no observations to 
prove it. 

Beginning at the vernal equinox and continuing all sum- depart 
mer long, the Silvery-bats go skimming over the broad Red 
River where it mirrors the tall buildings of Winnipeg; darting 
and wheeling like swallows of the gloom, enlivening bank and 
sky, and retiring between times to the shelter of the lumber 

« Ibid., p. 188. 



1170 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

piles, that rise in yellow foursquare towers by hundreds on the 

But again a change comes with the equinox. Each year, 
about September 21, the flittering host of eventide is gone — 
has disappeared as mysteriously as it came. The workmen no 
longer discover them crouching during the day beneath the 
sheltering boards. They have totally vanished, and all the 
evidence I have goes to show that this disappearance is due to 

How much farther south do they go ? 

Miller says:" "The Silver-haired Bat occurred in spring 
and fall about the light-house on Mount Desert Rock, 30 
miles off the coast of Maine, a treeless islet where Bats were 
at other times unknown." 

He states also that though the species was unknown in 
early summer at Highland Light, Cape Cod, Mass., "the 
animals * * * suddenly became numerous shortly after the 
middle of August, and remained abundant for about a month, 
when they as suddenly disappeared." 

Thus they are being traced on their route and marked 
down in their seasonal homes. Before long the fragmentary 
observations of many naturalists put together will spell the 
truth and show us that the Bats are as migratory as the birds, 
and, though long despised, may be also as interesting and 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 13, 1897, p. 11. 


Big Brown-bat, House-bat, Serotine Bat or 
Carolina Bat. 

Eptestcus fuscus (Beauvois). 

(G. Eplen, to fly; oikos, house, i. e., house-flyer; L. juscus, brown.) 

Vespertila fuscus Beauvois, 1796, Cat. Peale's Mus., Phila- 
delphia, p. 14. 

Eptesicus fuscus Mehely, 1900, Monogr. Chir. Hung., 
p. 208. 

Type Locality.— Philadelphia, Pa. 

French Canadian, la Chauve-souns brunne. 

In addition to the Family and sub-family characters, the 
genus Eptesicus (Rafinesque, 1820) has 2 mammae, the basal 
third of tail-web hairy, ears medium and somewhat pointed, 
and teeth thus: 

T 2-2 i-i i-i , ^-^ 

Inc. — -; can. ; prem. ; mo\.^^-^=T,z 

3-Z I-I 2-2 z-3 

The size of E. fuscus is distinctive among American size 
species of the genus. Length, 4^ to 5 inches (106 to 127 
mm.); tail, ij to 2iV inches (38 to 52 mm.); forearm, i| to 
i| inches (44 to 48 mm.); tibia, about | of an inch (about 19 
mm.); spread, 12 to 13 inches (305 to 330 mm.). 

Weight of an adult male, \ ounce. weight 

In colour it is wood-brown throughout, paler below; fur colour 
never silver tipped. (For head, see Fig. 264, p. 1148). 


1178 Life-histories of Northern Animals 
The following races are recognized: 

fuscus Beauvois, the typical form. 
miradorensis H. Allen, larger and darker. 
propinquus Peters, very small, colours dark. 
bahamensis Miller, small and with narrow muzzle. 
cubensis Gray, larger, resembling miradorensis, but 

ears smaller and more pointed. 
peninsiilcE Thomas, small and pale. 
bernardinus Rhoads, like fuscus, but paler. 
osceola Bangs, more cinnamon; otherwise like /z^-rct^j-. 
melanopterus Rehn, from Mt. Tallac; has blackish 

feet and wings. 


DisTRi- This Bat is one of the widest of rangers, and although it 

liUTioN g(.jjj-cely enters the Canadian zone, it more than makes up by 
spreading far into Central America (Map 66). It is included 
in the Manitoban list solely on the strength of a specimen 
secured by Kennicott on Lake Winnipeg (No. 6192, U. S. N. 
M., alcoholic), identified by H. Allen in his 1893 Monograph, 
p. 121. My own acquaintance with it was made at Toronto 
and New York, where I found it at its old trick of entering 
the house, like a winged burglar, under cover of night. 
HOME- Nothing is known of the home or individual range of this 

or any other of our Bats. 


ENVIRON- The chosen environment of the species differs little from 
^^^^^ that of its congeners of the smaller kinds. Open ways between 
trees seem especially alluring. In primitive times this confined 
them largely to the rivers and ponds, but now the clearances 
have enlarged their opportunities, and every meadow and field 
near sheltering groves is an eligible hunting-ground for the 
Big Brown-bat. 

It is a lower flyer than the Red-bat or the Hoary, and has 
a marked preference for town life. 


Epiesicus fuscus Beauvois. 

• outlines show the theoretical range of the spccief ; the spots are actual records. They are chierty from G. S. Miller's 
ograph, with others by J. A. Allen, C. Hart Merriam, G. S. Miller, C. H. Townsend, V. Bailey, and E. T. Seton. 

Revision and H. 

1180 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Time is an important element in all Bat fly-ways, and 
Dr. A. K. Fisher's observations help us to place this species in 
the nightly time-table of the out-doors. Excepting that the 
Hoary-bat is still later and is probably not reckoned with in his 
observations, mine agree with those of Dr. Fisher. 

Writing of the Big Brown-bats, he says:' "They are the 
last to make their appearance in the evening. In fact, when it 
gets so dark that objects are blended in one uncertain mass, and 
the bat-hunter finds that he is unable to shoot with any pre- 
cision, the Carolina Bats make their appearance as mere dark 
shadows, flitting here and there, while busily engaged in 
catching insects. We have to make a snapshot as they dodge 
in and out from behind the dark tree-tops, and are left in doubt 
as to the result until in the gloom we may perchance see our 
little 'black-and-tan,' seemingly as interested in the result as 
we are, pointing the dead animal." 

The breeding habits of this Bat are unknown. 

BREED- Probably they rut in late summer and produce their 2 

young in late spring, but I can find no positive evidence of it, 

which is the more remarkable since this is a conspicuous and 

abundant species, and was one of the earliest to be described. 

FOOD Their food no doubt differs chiefly in quantity from that of 



the smaller species. Dr. R. W. Shufeldt says:- 

"They drink a good deal and have simply enormous appe- 
tites. One specimen, in the course of a single night, consumed 
21 full-grown June-bugs (Lachnosierna fusca), leaving only a 
few legs and the hard outside wing-sheaths." 

ENE.viiEs By nature of their retreats and their wonderful powers of 

flight, the Bats have few enemies to fear, and it was a surprise 
to me when I read in Bailey's "Biological Survey of Texas''^ 
that: "At Mr. C. O. Finley's ranch, at the west base of the 

' Forest and Stream, July 21, 1881, p. 4go. 

' Chapters, Nat. Hist. United States, 1897, p. 440. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 25, 1905, p. 211. 

Big Brown-bat nsi 

Davis Mountains [south-western Texas], I found two lower 
jaws of this Bat among numerous other bones in pellets under 
the nest of a great horned-owl." 

At Chilliwack Lake, in British Columbia, the rainbow 
trout are of great size, 8 pounds to 12 pounds, and these giants 
were often seen by Professor John Macoun, leaping after the 
Bats that skim the surface of the lake at evenmg. In one case 
he thinks he saw a Bat captured by the trout, and is satisfied 
that the fish would not jump so persistently if they did not fre- 
quently succeed. 

The following interesting remarks on its habits in general habits 
are contributed by Rhoads:^ 

"Among American Bats this species may be said to corre- 
spond in its fondness for the homes of man to the Mouse and 
Rat, or to the robin and the wren among birds. During sum- 
mer, they are as likely to hang up for day-dreams behind an 
unused shutter or door, or a crack in the wall, or a shady porch 
or out-house, as anywhere else. At night, they incessantly circle 
about the house and lawn and street lamps until some fleeing 
insect suddenly leads one into the kitchen or the bedchamber, 
and, 10 to I, a panic ensues, resulting in no small noise, 
destruction of furniture, and the miserable death of the innocent, 
harmless, and useful Bat. Such an occurrence as this, related 
by Audubon, happened in his Kentucky home in 1818, in the 
bedroom occupied by the traveller Rafinesque. It resulted in 
the destruction of a favourite violin, etc. [which the guest used 
as a bat-club], and, so far as we are able to follow the sequel, in 
the immortality of the Bat as ' Eptesicus melanops Raf.', which, 
being interpreted, is no less than a synonym oiEptesicus fuscus 
(Beauvois), the subject of this article. It is interesting to note 
that Rafinesque, in describing the genus Eptesicus, says: 'The 
name means house-flyer'; and of the species melanops he says: 
' It comes often in the house at night'; recording in this way the 
indelible impressions of his midnight battle two years before. 
This Bat is accused of bringing bed-bugs and other insect 

* Mam. Penn., 1903, p. 212. 

1182 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

vermin into houses. I have never found any vermin on them 
except Hce of a species not parasitic on man." 

In the Museum of the Geological Survey at Ottawa is a 
specimen found dormant behind a window of the building on 
December 3, 1894. This is the more interesting because it is 
nearly the north-most record and the species is supposed to be 


Northern Red-bat or Tree-bat, 

Lasturus borealis (Muller). 
(Gr. lasios, hairy; oura, tail; L. borealis, of the North.) 

Vespertilio borealis MuLLER, 1776, Natur. Syst., Suppl., p. 21. 

Lasiurus borealis MiLLER, 1897, N. Am. Fauna, No. 13, p. 105. 

Type Locality. — New York. 

French Canadian, la Chauve-souns rouge. 

In addition to the Family and sub-family characters, the 
genus Lasiurus (Gray, 1831) has the tail densely hairy above, 
continuous with the back furring; the ear broad, low, and 
round-topped; mammae, 4; teeth: 

T i-i i-i 2-2 , ^-x 

Inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. =^2 

3-Z I -I 2-2 ^-T, 

Total length, 4 to 4I inches (102 to in mm.); tail, about size 
2 inches (about 51 mm.); forearm, i\ to if inches (38 to 41 
mm.); tibia, about | inch (about 19 mm.); spread, about 12 
inches (305 mm.). 

In size it is much like the Silver-haired Bat (see Fig. 

The colour of the Red-bat is usually described as a bright colour 
rufous or dull orange. This, however, conveys no idea of the 
exquisite tints that go to make up the general tone of red. The 
Manitoba specimen before me is, first, all over of a delicate, pale 


1184 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

sienna, but on the upper part and across the breast each hair 
has a dark orange-brown or sienna outer part that gives the 
general colour, with the pale under-fur showing through at 
places; finally, each hair on the fore-back and across the chest 
has a silvery-white tip; on the shoulder in front of their wings 
these are so large as to form a white spot on each side. In 
certain lights the back fur has the efi^ect of rich golden-brown 
glossed with purple. Individuals vary from yellow to deep 
red, but the style is unmistakable; by its colour alone the Red- 
bat may be known. 

In the air, its long, thin wings distinguish it from all but 
the Hoary-bat; the probabilities of time and place, as well as 
their sizes, will help in discriminating these two. 

The following races are recognized: 

borealis Miiller, the typical form. 

seminolus Rhoads, darker (mahogany brown). 

pfeifjeri Gundlach, larger and deeper coloured than 

teliotis H. Allen, smaller and deeper coloured than 

borealis, with tail-web furred only on basal third. 
mexicanus Saussure, like teliotis, but membranes and 

feet less hairy. 


Its range covers the continent from the southern edge of 
the Hudsonian to the northern edge of the Tropical fauna, 
east of the Great Plains, as set forth on Map No. 67, and yet 
farther into Central or South America. Its claim to be in 
the Manitoban list rests on 3 specimens, i I received from 
Morden, where it was captured by D. Nicholson, and 2 
taken at Winnipeg and shown to me by Edward Wilson. 
Another was taken by Edwin Hollis at Touchwood Hills, 
September 16, 1901; it was a female. G. F. Dippie assures 
me that he has taken it several times at Calgary, Aha. 

Lasiums borealis (Mil Her). 

The outlines show the theoretical range, the spots arc the actual records, chiefly from G. S. Miller's Revision, and H, Allen's Monograph, 
rith others by V. Bailey, S. N. Rhoads, O. Bangs, and E. T, Seton. 


1186 Life-histories of Northern Animals 
ENVIRON- The Red-bat is, above all its kin in our country, a tree Bat, 


never frequenting caves. Every specimen that I have seen, 
and all I have knowledge of, were found hanging from a branch 
in the woods, generally a very low one, and looking like a 
rumpled leaf that is prematurely dead but not yet fallen. 
Merriam speaks' of finding them "asleep in the daytime, 
hanging by their thumb-nails to small twigs or leaf stems 
within easy reach." If disturbed on such occasions, they flit 
away to some other lowly place, apparently not at all incom- 
moded by the brightness of the daylight. 

C. W. Nash tells me that in Manitoba he has seen them 
coming out of burrows in the moss. 

sociA- This Bat, like its relative, the Great Hoarv-bat, seems to 


be far from gregarious, in fact almost a solitary species, or 
seen only in pairs. 

MATING It is not known whether our Bats are polygamous, poly- 

androus, or promiscuous. Rhoads speaks of finding this kind 
in pairs,^ which is a mite of proof that the species has pro- 
gressed. The only recorded observation on their mating is 
the following by Dr. J. A. Allen:' 

"Very little seems to be known respecting the time of copu- 
lation or the period of gestation of the Bats. From Mr. J. G. 
Shute, of Woburn (Mass.), I learn a fact in reference to this 
point observed by him some few years since. Soon after sun- 
set, one evening in October, he observed a strange object pass 
him in the air, which seemed to fall to the ground not far from 
where he was standing. Repairing immediately to the spot, 
he soon found it, which proved to be a pair of these Bats in 
coitu. They were captured and thrown into alcohol, and thus 
forwarded to the Museum of Comparative Zoology." 

Miller mentions" that this Bat breeds at Brownsville, Tex., 
so that it may breed in all of its range north of that point. 

' Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 182. ' Mam. Pcnn., 1903, p. 213. 

" Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., Vol. I, No. 8, 1869, p. 208. 
'N. A. Fauna, No. 13, 1897, p. 108. 

Northern Red-bat 1187 

As the young are found of tender age early in June gesta- 
and late in May, it is probable that the gestation lasts for 8 '^^°^ 

Although but I young one has been found with the youxvg 
mother in most cases observed, M. W. Lyon, Jr., calls attention^ 
to the fact that this Bat has 4 mammae, and that 4 unborn 
young have been taken from an adult female of L. borealis 

He says: "While the rule for most Bats is i, or some- 
times 2, offspring at parturition, yet a careful examination 
of material and the literature shows the number of young pro- 
duced at a time by members of the genus Lasiurus, and probably 
Dasypterus, is usually double that number. This might safely 
be inferred from the fact that 4 mammae are found in Bats 
of this group, as has been noted by several writers. In all 
other Bats, so far as the writer is aware, there are 2 mammae, 
each of which is placed near the middle of the outer border of 
the pectoral muscle. In the Lasiurine Bats, in addition to 
these 2, there is a second pair, located more posteriorly, each 
mamma of which is nearer the back and pretty well up under 
the wing. 

"As to the number of young in Lasiurus, Professor Wilder 
found 3 embryos in each of 2 specimens of L. borealis from 



"A specimen of L. borealis from Illinois (No. 14,273), 
preserved in alcohol, contains 2 fetuses. 

"The most interesting specimens in this connection are 
Nos. 114,044 to 114,048, an adult female nursing 4 young, 
brought into the National Museum alive by Mr. J. C. Lawson, 
of Washington, D. C, on June 18, 1902. * * * A young one 
was at each of the adult's nipples, where it held on with great 
tenacity, having in its mouth a good deal of its mother's hair, 
into which its hooked milk teeth firmly caught. As Dobson 
has suggested, it is probably for the purpose of holding securely 

' Proc. United States Nat. Mus., Vol. XXVI, pp. 425-6, 1903. 

1188 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

to their mothers that the milk teeth of Bats differ in form 

from those of other mammals. 


"The young ones were less than a third grown as to weight, 
and about half grown as to linear measurements. The com- 
bined weights of the four young amounted to 12.7 grammes, 
while the mother weighed but 11 grammes." 

Three of the young were females, i a male. 

Titian Peale, of Philadelphia, is responsible for the fol- 
lowing interesting story of maternal instinct in a Red-bat:' 

"In June, 1823, the son of Mr. Gillespie, keeper of the 
city square, caught a young Red-bat {Vespertilio noveboracen- 
sis L.), which he took home with him. Three hours afterwards, 
in the evening, as he was conveying it to the Museum in his 
hand, while passing near the place where it was caught, the 
mother made her appearance, followed the boy for two 
squares, flying around him, and finally alighting on his breast, 
such was her anxiety to save her offspring. Both were brought 
to the Museum, the young one firmly adhering to its mother's 
teat. This faithful creature lived two days in the Museum, 
and then died of injuries received from her captor. The 
young one, being but half grown, was still too young to take 
care of itself, and died shortly after." 

"The young of this species continue to nurse till at least 
a month old. I shot a female on the 31st of July (1883) whose 
udders still contained milk, and whose long nipples were much 
drawn out. A week later (August 7) I killed a full-grown 
young flying over the same meadow."' 

From the above I should rather infer that the young nurse 
till about two months old, or even more. 

"The Red-bat [says Merriam]" generally makes its ap- 
pearance earlier in the evening than the other species, evidently 
fancying the dusk of twilight more than the increased darkness 
of advancing night, and I have killed it even on a cloudy after- 

» Godman's Am. Nat. Hist., 1826, Vol. I., pp. 56-7. 

'Merriam, Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 184. ^ Ibid., pp. 181-2. 

Northern Red-bat 1189 

noon, while flying to and fro in pursuit of insects near the bor- 
der of a hardwood grove." 

Whether it has a morning meal-hour as well is not ascer- 

Many observers comment on the readiness of this Bat to 
enter the house at night and pursue the insects that are at- 
tracted by the candles. Yarrow says° that in most portions 
of the United States it would be safe to say that, in any given 
instance of a Bat entering our rooms in the evening, the chances 
are a hundred to one of its being either the Red-bat or the 
Little Brown-bat. 

Dr. Hornaday, after crediting this species with unusual 
cleverness, adds'" that the only mistake it makes "is in fly- 
ing into houses through open windows, and instantly forgetting 
the location of the means of escape. Once in a room, the Bat 
flies slowly, and frequently is so bewildered by the sudden 
change from semi-darkness to light, that it strikes a wall and 
falls to the floor." 

In summer, as we have seen, the Bat invariably roosts in a mi- 


tree. In Manitoba, at least, it certainly does not do so in 
winter. In summer it is solitary and not known to frequent 
caves. In winter it is known to gather in vast numbers in the 
caves of its more southerly range. As far as these facts go, 
they point to a migration from the northern part of its range 
and a hibernation in the southern part, a complete change of 
behaviour in each case accompanying the change of life. 

The segregation of the sexes seems an important rule in 
Bat life. Dr. E. A. Mearns has supplied some remarkable 
observations on this head during the migration. Writing from 
the Hudson Highlands of New York, where this Bat is very 
abundant in summer, he says:" 

"During the latter part of October and the first week of 
November I have seen great flights of them during the whole 
day. In 1876, I noted that all of the individuals shot from any 

" Zoo!., Surv. West of looth Mend., 1875, p. 8g. '° Am. Nat. Hist., igo4, p. 65. 

" Vert. Faun. Hudson Highlands, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 1898, Vol. X, p. 345. 

1190 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

single flock were of the same sex, though another flock might 
yield all of the opposite sex. One year specimens are recorded 
on four days, on two days only males, and on two only females. 
So far as they go, these observations suggest that the sexes 
perhaps separate during autumnal flights, as birds commonly 

Following along their route further south, we come into 
the observational region of another good naturalist, S. N. 
Rhoads, who writes :'- 

"I have observed this species returning from apparently 
extensive flights over the ocean on the New Jersey coast in the 
early morning before sunrise. On one or two occasions in 
September single individuals have been observed flying directly 
towards the shore, so exhausted as to make little progress 
against a land breeze, and alighting on the nearest object as 
soon as land was reached. It is possible that these had been 
blown to sea during their migrations along the coast." 

A gale so trying to the Red-bat must have been disastrous 
to the birds. For this is one of the swiftest and strongest fliers 
of its tribe. Oftentimes in the evening one has the chance to 
compare the flight of the Little Brown-bat with that of the 
chimney-swift, and never does one incline to give inferior 
rank to the Bat. But the Red-bat is superior to its twilight 
brother as a flier; not only is it swift as the swift itself, but it can 
turn and twist and dash within a hair-breadth of destruction, 
or through a hole that is not half its wing-extent, and perform 
a hundred feats of power that are far beyond any but birds 
of the longest and strongest wings. 

It has, indeed, achieved a consummate mastery of the 
realms of air, a conquest at least as complete as that attained 
by swallow, swift, or hawk, a fact that should have its meed 
of comfort for those hopeful human aeronauts who have long 
been told in scorn that feathers are the only means to perfect 

" Mam. Pcnn., 1903, p. 213. 


The Hoary-bat or Great Northern Bat. 

Lasiurus ctnereus (Beauvois). 
(L. cinereus, cindery or ash-coloured.) 

Vespertilio cinereus Beauvois, 1796, Cat. Peale's Mus., Phila., 

P- 15- 
Lasiurus cinereus H. Allen, 1864, Monog. Bats N. A., p. 21. 
Type Locality. — Philadelphia, Pa. 

French Canadian, la Chauve-souns gnsonnke ou 

In addition to the generic characters given in the preceding 
article, this Bat has very obvious and specific features that 
make it easy to identify. 

In size it exceeds all others in our list. Total length, 5 to size 
5^ inches (127 to 140 mm.); tail, 2 to 2| inches (51 to 60 mm.); 
forearm, i| to 2| inches (45 to 57 mm.); tibia, | to i inch (22 to 
25 mm.); spread, 15 to 17 inches (381 to 432 mm.). 

In style of colour it approaches the Red-bat. The fur colour 
next the body is dull blackish, but this does not ordinarily 
show; the general under-colour visible is a soft sienna or orange 
buff, much grayer on breast and belly; but on the chest and 
upper parts each hair has a dark-brown zone, and, finally, a 
silvery-white tip; the general effect is rich, deep brown, exqui- 
sitely frosted over with white; the chin is clear pale brown or 
yellow; the ears have black rims, and the muzzle is more or less 

When in air, this species may be distinguished from all by 
its long, pointed wings, great size, and swift zigzag flight. 



1192 Life-histories of Northern Animals 


Map No. 68 shows that this fine Bat ranges over nearly 
all the continent, breeding in the northern and wintering 
in the southern half. I have seen about a dozen specimens 
in Manitoba; these were taken at Carberry, Sourismouth, 
Morden, and Winnipeg. Edwin Hollis captured a female at 

Fig. 266 — Left side teeth of Hoary-bat ; two views of each row. 

(Five times life size.) Those to the left are the upper ; to the 

right the lower. 
From Miller's Revision, N. A. Fauna No. 13, p. 114. Biological Surv.. U. S. 
Dept. Agr. 

Touchwood Hills, September ii, igoi.' G. F. Dippie reports 
it at Calgary, and on July 13, 1907, E. A. Preble saw one at 
Fort Resolution. 


Nothing is known of the extent to which the individual 
R.wGE will roam, but there is no reason why it should not cover as 
much ground as a small falcon, if its necessities should de- 
mand it. 


All the Hoary-bats I have met were in half-open country, 
where both woods and water abounded. I see nothing peculiar 
in this, and yet its chosen surroundings differ somewhat from 
those of its congeners. I am not aware that any of our Bats 
habitually hunt in the thick woods; they can find a better, 
easier prey in the near-by openings. Some of the small species 
are content with the small openings and small prey near the 
ground; but the Great Hoary-bat soars high. Its proper 
place, as I understand it, is far above the tree-tops of the forest, 

' Zobl., Aug. 15, 1902, p. 297, and subsequent personal letter. 


Lasiurus cinereus (Beauvois). 

The outlined portion is the theoretical breeding-ground ; over the rest of the continent, to the south of this, it is a migrant or wii 
only. The spots are actual records taken chiefly from H. Allen's Monograph and G. S. Miller's Revision, with others by J. A. Allen J 
V. Bailey, O. Bangs, and E. T. Seton. 

1194 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

where fly the great, fat luna moths and the cecropias, with 
others half as big as itself and worthy of its powers. In one 
other respect it has a proper sphere — it appears later at night 
(or earlier in the dawn) than any others of the tribe on our list. 

In the Silvery-bat chapter we have noticed the nightly 
order of appearance that is, in a general way, observed by the 
Bats, and the present handsome creature, as befits its impor- 
tance, is the last to appear. 

Dr. Merriam's observations on this point, made in Lewis 
County, N. Y., are very complete, as well as the only ones 

"The hour," says he,^ "at which Bats leave their retreats 
to begin their nocturnal excursion is governed, first, by the 
latitude, longitude, and altitude of the locality, and the time of 
the year; and, second, by the character of the sky (whether 
clear or overcast) and the exposure — those living along the 
southern and eastern borders of woodlands and in dark ravines 
appearing earlier than those whose hiding places face the setting 
sun. In other words, the time at which Bats appear depends 
solely upon the degree of darkness.' 

"Hence it follows that their nightly exodus, in a given 
locality, does not take place in a fixed period after the disap- 
pearance of the sun, for, during the first part of October, in 
this latitude, the darkness is as great half an hour after sunset 
as it is an hour after, three months earlier. Therefore, in esti- 
mating the exact hour at which Bats are to be expected at any 
stated date, it is necessary not only to consider the time the sun 
sets, but also to take into account the duration of the twilight. 
Moreover, in the same locality, the several species do not com- 
mence to fly at the same hour, for each seems to await a par- 
ticular and different degree of darkness. The Hoary-bat is one 
of the last to appear, and for this reason its capture is the most 
difficult. In Lewis County, during the latter part of June, it 
does not start out (excepting in deep forests and dark valleys) 
till about 8.45 P. M., or a full hour after sunset, while in the 
early part of October I have killed it at 6 p. m., or just half an 

' Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 180-1. ' Italics mine. — E. T. S. 



hour after sundown. The following table is calculated to 
illustrate the above remarks: 

Times of Evening Appearances of 'Atalapha cinerea' [Hoary-bat] at Locust 
Grove, N. Y., at Different Dates in 1883. 






June 30 



8.45 o'c 


63 minutes 

July 9 



52 " 

July 31 



49 " 

Aug. 3 



43 " 

Aug. 21 



38 " 

Oct. 8 



30 " 

In Manitoba the den or lurking place of this species is lurk- 
among the thickest boughs of a spruce top. Whether it place 
ever frequents caves or hollow trees when available I can- 
not say. 

A specimen which I took near Carberry, August 21, 1883, voice 
bit viciously and screamed aloud, in the style of the Little 
Brown-bats, but in deeper, stronger tones. 

I cannot learn that any one ever saw a great number of unsoci- 
these Bats in one lurking place. The smaller species may gather 
in crowds at a convenient shelter nook, yet this, the king of the 
northern kinds, is, so far as known, solitary at all times save 
the breeding season. 

Concerning its mating in the Adirondack region. Dr. rut 
Merriam says :* " That the species ruts about the i st of August 
there can be no reasonable doubt, for I saw more of them from 
the 30th of July till the 6th of August [1883] than I have seen in 
all before and since, and 12 adult specimens killed during 
that brief period were all males. They were not feeding, but 
were rushing wildly about, evidently in search of the females. 
Many flew so high as to be entirely out of range, though directly 

•Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 179. 

1196 Life-histories of Northern Animals 
GESTA- The gestation is, as usual, prolonged, being 9^ or 10 

TION ^1 

YOUNG As in the case of the Red-bat, 4 appear to be the normal 

number of young at birth, though experience would lead us to 
look for a lower average in the nursery. In the collection of 
the Manitoba Natural History Society is a female with 2 young 
at her breast. 

J. S. Charleson, of MacDonald, Man., tells me that at 
Sourismouth he found a female hanging in a tree with 4 young 
clinging to her breast; they were so tightly fast to her teats 
that they could not be removed. 

They are born, apparently, in the last week of May. 
Merriam records^ that: "On the evening of the 30th of June 
last (1883) Dr. A. K. Fisher shot a large female, measuring 
422 mm. (i6| inches), at my home in Lewis County. It had 
already given birth to its young, and each of its 4 mammae 
bore evidence of having recently been nursed." 

These might have been born in June, but the analogy of 
the closely related Red-bat weighs in favour of a date at least 
a week earlier than June i. This would fit in nicely with 
another record by Merriam: 

"The only young I have ever seen [he says]' was shot here 
August 6, 1883, by Walter H. Merriam. It was nearly full 
grown, measuring 400 mm. (15I inches) in extent, and differed 
from the adults chiefly in being a little lighter coloured." 

MiGRA Like all northern species of the Family, this Bat is migra- 

tory. Not a surprising fact when one remembers that it hates 
the cold as much as swallows do, and is at least as well equipped 
to seek more genial climes when frosty nights come on to nip 
its tender wings, rob the forests of its food, and turn its 
favourite forage ground to bleak and barren wastes. 

Observations on its movements are hard to make, and so 
are few to-day. An important record by G. S. Miller runs 

'•Ibid., p. 179, 'Ibid., p. 179. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 13, 1897, p. 11. 

Hoary-bat 1197 

"In August and September, 1890 and 1891, I had an 
opportunity to watch the appearance and disappearance of 
three species of Bats, Lasionycteris noctivagans, Lasturus 
borealis, and Lasiiirus cinereus, at Highland Light, Cape Cod, 
Mass. The animals, which were not to be found during the 
summer, suddenly became numerous shortly after the middle 
of August and remained abundant for about a month, when 
they as suddenly disappeared. The regularity with which this 
phenomenon occurred on the two successive years over which 
my observations extended shows that the migration of Bats is 
probably as definite as to dates and paths as that of birds." 

I find in one of my journals a Bat note that refers to this 
present question: 

One day, early in September, 1885, I went at dawn to the 
marsh near Toronto, Ont., to see the autumnal departure of the 
swallows whose head-quarters for a week before had been the 
great reed-beds on the Don side of the Bay. As the sky was 
brightening in the east, they began to arise in a body, towering 
like a swirling column of smoke, to seek the elevation at which 
they make their daytime flight. Sunrise was near, and most 
of them were gone when a large Bat arose with the last swarm 
from the reed-bed, circling up in plain view. My companion 
called out, "Look at that big Bat," and made an attempt to 
collect it, but the Bat sailed away with the swallows towards the 
south. It was almost certainly a Hoary-bat. 

This incident, if it proves anything, would seem to show 
that one of our large Bats migrates by day, and possibly also, 
that, like many migrants, it seeks the company of other 
travellers more likely than itself to know the way. 

The uninitiated may ask whether the Bat could fly in powers 
company with such dashing coursers of the air as swallows 
without being a hopeless laggard. But none who know the Bat 
will think of such a thing. Reference to the incident of the old 
Red-bat carrying her young that weighed more than she did, 
and yet catching flies in the air for food, will show that these 
creatures have solved the problem of flight better than birds. 

1198 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

For it is very doubtful if any bird could fly and catch insects 
while bearing a load greater than its own weight. And the 
Hoary-bat we know to be at least the Red-bat's peer in flight. 
The latest date in my Journal for the Hoary-bat, at Toronto, is 

One of the most interesting facts connected with the far- 
flight of this Bat is its occasional visits to the Bermudas in 
autumn and early winter.* 

As these islands are 580 miles in a straight line from the 
nearest land, which is Cape Hatteras, this is evidence of very 
high-class wing-power indeed. 

Concerning its habits in general, I have little original in- 
formation, nor do I know of any detailed account except that 
by Dr. Merriam: 

"Imagine for the moment, sympathetic reader [he says]," 
that you are an enthusiastic Bat hunter, and have chanced to 
visit some northern forest where this handsome species occurs. 
The early evening finds you, gun in hand, near the border of a 
lonely wood. The small Bats soon begin to fly, and in the 
course of fifteen or twenty minutes you may have killed several, 
all of which prove to be the Silver-haired species {Laswnyctens 
noctivagans). The twilight is fast fading into night, and you 
are making a constant effort of searching its obscurity, when 
suddenly a large Bat is seen approaching, perhaps high above 
the tree-tops, and has scarcely entered the limited field of 
vision when, in swooping for a passing insect, he cuts the line 
of the distant horizon, and disappears in the darkness below. 
In breathless suspense you wait for him to rise, crouching low 
that his form may be sooner outlined against the dim light that 
still lingers in the north-west, when he suddenly shoots by, 
seemingly as big as an owl, within a few feet of your very eyes. 
Turning quickly, you fire, but too late! He has vanished in the 
darkness. For more than a week each evening is thus spent, 

« J. M. Jones, Mammals of Bermuda, Bull. 25, U. S. N. Mus., 1884, p. 145- 
'Op. cit., pp. 176-7. 

Hoary-bat Ii9a 

and you almost despair of seeing another Hoary-bat, when, 
perhaps, on a clear, cold night, just as the darkness is becoming 
too intense to permit you to shoot with accuracy, and you are 
on the point of turning away, something appears above the 
horizon that sends a thrill of excitement through your whole 
frame. There is no mistaking the species — the size, the sharp, 
narrow wings, and the swift flight serve instantly to distinguish 
it from its nocturnal comrades. On he comes, but just before 
arriving within gunshot he makes one of his characteristic zig- 
zag side shoots, and you tremble as he momentarily vanishes 
from view. Suddenly he reappears, his flight becomes more 
steady, and now he sweeps swiftly towards you. No time is to 
be lost, and it is already too dark to aim, so you bring the gun 
quickly to your shoulder and fire. With a piercing, stridulous 
cry, he falls to the earth. In an instant you are stooping to 
pick him up, but the sharp, grating screams, uttered with a 
tone of intense anger, admonish you to observe discretion. 
With delight you cautiously take him in your hand and hurry 
to the light to feast your eyes upon his rich and handsome 

The Bat is one of the masterpieces of Creation. It 
exemplifies, in high degree, the perfect beast with perfect 
senses, equipped with perfect flight, so there be few indeed 
that in the scale outrank it. And the Prince among these 
winged ones is the magnificent Hoary-bat, whose imperfect 
history is before us. To the general and generous gifts of its 
tribe it adds great size, with corresponding higher power, a 
furry robe of exquisite beauty — a combination indeed of Sable, 
seal, and Silver-fox — and last, a blameless life. Many of its 
kin have equal and difi^erent claims to admiration and respect, 
but all these beauties go for naught with the world; even as 
Cyrano's nose outweighed all other worth, so one external 
blemish damns the Bat, for on its face this noble creature bears 
the mark of Cain, and every man's hand is against it. Its 
face is its fortune, indeed, but alack! an ill-fortune proved, 
for none can discern angel grace in a creature cursed with a 

1200 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

visage of such hobgoblin ughness. To this, no doubt, the 
harmless Bat owes thanks for centuries of human cruelties and 
oppression, and for all its ill repute. Could we but feel and 
remember that this is the original of the winged Brownie, the 
sprite that dwells in caves, coming forth at the magic call of the 
dew-time, to sport and circle in the airy woods, the elf that 
sometimes truly sleeps the winter-long sleep ascribed by legend 
to the elfin folk, and that is, withal, the highest and most gifted 
of the earth-born beings in our northern woods — could we but 
keep these things in mind, how differently we should feel 
towards the Bat. 



1795. Samuel Hearne. A Journey IVom Prince of Wales's 
Fort in Hudson Hay, to the Northern Ocean. 
Undertaken by order of the 1 ludson's Hay Corni)any, 
for the discovery of copper mines, a North-west 
Passage, &c., in the years 1769, 1770, 1771, iind 
1772. 4to, xliv, 458 pp., 9 plates, 5 maps. Lon- 

[1799 1814. Alexander Henry XL MS. Journal, a 
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Narrative by Franklin; Natural History appendix by 
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1823. Stephen H. Long. Account of an ICxpedition from 
Pittsburg to the Rocky Mountains, performed in 
the years 18 19 and 1820. Notes by T. Say and 
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xcviii pp., and atlas, 2 maps and 9 plates. Phila- 

1825. William H. Keating. Narrative of an Expedition to 
the source of St. Peters River, Lake Winnipeek, 
Lake of the Woods, etc., performed in the year 1823. 
(Under Stephen H. Long.) 2 vols., 8vo, 458, 248 
pp. Nat. Hist, app., pp. 156. Pll. 8, incl. i map. 


1204 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1825. Richard Harlan. Fauna Americana; being a de- 
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North America. 8vo, 320 pp. Philadelphia. 

1826-8. John D. Godman. American Natural History. 3 
vols., 8vo, 362, 331 and 264 pp.; 21, 19 and 9 pll. 

1828. John Franklin. Narrative of a second expedition to 

the shores of the Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, 
and 1827. Including an account of the progress of a 
detachment to the eastward, by John Richardson, 
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31 plates, 6 maps. London. 

1829. John Richardson. Fauna Boreali-Americana, Part 

I, Quadrupeds. 4to, x]vi-300 pp., 23 plates. Lon- 

1842. James E. Dekay. Zoology of New York, or the New 
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1846-54. John James Audubon and John Bachman. 

The Quadrupeds of North America. 3 vols., roy. 
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[All three volumes are dated 1849. As no other date appears, I give that 
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under command of Sir John Franklin. 2 vols., 
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1853. Zadock Thompson. Natural History of Vermont. 
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A List of the Chief Works Cited 1205 

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i860. Henry Youle Hind. Narrative Canadian Red River 
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and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition of 1858. 
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[He defines Mackenzie River District as lying between Salt River and the 
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1 861. Bernard R. Ross. List of Mammals, Birds, and 
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pp. 137-155. Montreal. 

1 861. C. Birch Bagster. The progress and prospects of 

Prince Edward Island. Chaps. XV to XVIII on 
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[A rare volume.] 

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District of Montreal. Can. Nat. and Geol., VII, 
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1862. A. E. Verrill. Notes on the Natural History of Anti- 

costi. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. Vol. IX, 
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[He gives Fox, Marten, and Blackbear as common. Otter not uncommon, 
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1863. H. Y. Hind. Exploration in the Interior of the Lab- 

rador Peninsula. 2 vols., 8vo, 351 and 304 pp. 

UOC) Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1868. Lewis H. Morgan. Ihe American Beaver and his 

Works. 8\o, jjo pp., map, 23 ppl., and 26 cuts. 

1869. Campbell Hardy. Forest Life in Acadic. 8vo, 371 

pp., 12 illustrations. London. 

[A stainlanl wcirk on llu- natural history of Nova Scotia. Out of print.] 

1873. A. Leith Adams. I'icld and Forest Ramhles. 8vo, 

.vx> PP- London. 

[A .slandaal work on natural lii.story of New Brunswick.] 

1874. J. A. Allen. Notes on the Natural History of portions 

of Dakota and Montana Territories. Proc. Boston 
Soc. Nat. Hist., XVI L pp. 33-91- Introduction and 
Mammals, pp. ^^ to 43. Boston. 

1874. Thomas Bell. A History of British Quadrupeds, in- 

cliidinu; the Cetacea. 8vo, 474 pp. London. 

1875. Elliott Coues and H. C. Yarrow. Rept. Expl. and 

Sur\. West of 100th Meridian, Vol. V, Zoology. 
Chap. 11. Kept, on Mammals by Coues and Yar- 
row, pp. 35-1 2(). Washington. 

1875. George M. Dawson. Report of the Boundary Com- 

mission. (Cu'ology 4i)th Parallel.) 8vo, xi-387 
pp. Many maps and illustrations. Montreal, 
I-onilon and New "^'ork. 

1876. Robert Bell. Report on ^he country west of Lakes 

Manitoha and Winnipegosis, with notes on the 
Geology of Lake Winnipeg. Rept. Prog. (leol. 
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A List of the Chief Works Cited 1207 

1877. J. A. Allen. History of tlic American Bison, Bisnn 
americanus. Ninth Ann. Rcpt. II. S. (Jcol. and 
Geog. Sur. Terr, for 1875. Pub. June, 1877, pp. 
443-587. F. V. Hayden in charge. Washington. 

[The orij;in;il memoir had i maji and 12 plalcs, also discussed extinct 
si)ecies. It was piiblisiud in Ccol. Mem., Kentucky, 1876, and 
Mem. Mus. Comp. Zool., ('aml)ri(l(^c; (876.] 

1877. J, D. Caton. The Antelope and Deer of America. 
8vo, 426 |)|)., many ilhistrations. New York. 

1877. Elliott Couesand Joel Asaph Allen. Monographs 
of North American Rodentia. Vol. XI, U. S. (Jeol. 
Surv. Terr. F. V. Ilayden in charge. 4to, 1,091 PP- 

[Manitoba specimens of several species listed.] 

1877. Elliott Coues. Fur-bearing Animals. Misc. Pub., 

No. 8, U. S. Geol. Surv. Terr. 8vo, 348 pp., 20 
plates. Washington. 

1878. C. E. McChesney. Notes on the Mammals of Fort 

Sisseton, Dakota. Hull. U. S. Cjeol. and Geog. Surv. 
Terr. Bull. I, Vol. IV, Art. VIII. Feb. 5, 1878. 

1878. Joel Asaph Allen. The Geographical distribution 
of the Mammalia considered in relation to the 
princi|)al ontological regions of the earth, and the 
laws that govern the distribution of animal life. 
Bull. U. S. Geol. Surv., Vol. IV, No. 2, pp. 313- 
377. Art. XV. May 3. Washington. 

1882. John Macoun. Manitoba and The Great North-west. 

8vo, 687 pp. Chap. XX, p|). 325-353, devoted to 
Mammals. Cjuelph, (Jnt. 

1883. Ernest E. T. Seton. The Striped Gopher {Hf^er- 

mophilus tridecemltneatus Mitchillj. Rep. Dep. Agr. 
Manitoba for 1882, pp. 169-172, 4 ills. A life- 
history of the species in Manitoba. Winnipeg. 

1208 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1884. Robert Bell. Observations on the Geology, Mineral- 
ogy, Zoology and Botany of the Labrador Coast, 
Hudson Strait and Bay. Rept. Prog. Geol. and 
Nat. Hist. Surv., Canada. App. H. Mam., pp. 48 
DD to 53 DD. Montreal, Canada. 

1884. Clinton Hart Merriam. The Mammals of the Adi- 

rondack Region. 4to, 316 pp. Reprinted from 
Vols. I and II. Trans. Linn. Soc, N. Y., Sept. 
1884. New York. 

1885. Miller Christy. Notes on the Mammals of Mani- 

toba. Nat. Hist. Journal and School Reporter. Vol. 
IX, May 15, 1885, No. 76, pp. 67-74. York, Eng- 

1886. Ernest E. T. Seton. The Mammals of Manitoba. 

Hist, and Sci. Soc, Manitoba, Trans. No. 23, Season 
1886. A paper of 15 pp., treating 49 species. Read 
before the Soc. on the evening of May 27, 1886. 
Pub. in Manitoba Free Press, May, 28, 1886. 

[A new edition appeared in the following year. It made a 26-pp. 
pamphlet, treated 52 species, and had 6 illustrations by the author.] 

1886. Lucien M. Turner. Contributions to the Natural 

History of Alaska. No. II. Arctic series of Publi- 
cations, Signal Service, U. S. Army. 4to, 226 pp., 
Mammals, pp. 197-208. Washington. 

1887. E. W. Nelson. Report upon Natural History Collec- 

tions made in Alaska between the years 1877 and 
1881. No. Ill, Arctic series. Signal Service, U. S. 
Army, 4X0, ^^y pp., 21 pll. Mammals by Nelson 
and F. W. True, pp. 227-293. Washington. 

1887. Charles H. Townsend. Field notes on the Mam- 
mals, Birds and Reptiles of Northern California. 
Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., X, pp. 159-241. Mammals, 
pp. 164-190. Washington. 

A List of the Chief Works Cited 1209 

1888. Ernest Thompson Seton. Tracks in the Snow. St. 
Nicholas, March, 1888. Pp. 338-341, 6 diagrams. 
New York. 

[Many tracks and track incidents are given.] 

1888. Vernon Bailey. Report on some of the Results of a 
Trip through parts of Minnesota and Dakota. Ann. 
Kept. Dep. Agr., 1887. Pp. 426-454. Washing- 

1888. Miles Spencer. Notes on the Breeding Habits of 

certain Mammals, from personal observations and 
enquiries from Indians. App. Ill, pp. 76-79. 
Rept. Expl. James Bay and country east of Hudson 
Bay, by A. P. Low. Ann. Rept. Geol. and Nat. 
Hist. Surv., Canada, Vol. III. Montreal. 

1889. W. T. Hornaday. The Extermination of the 

American Bison. Ann. Rept. U. S. Nat. Mus. for 
1887, pp. 367-548, with map and many illustrations. 

1890. J. A. Allen. List of Mammals collected by Mr. 

Clark P. Streator in British Columbia, with descrip- 
tions of two new sub-species of Sciurus. Bull. Am. 
Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. Ill, No. I, Art. IX, pp. 161- 

168, Nov. 14, 1890. New York. 

1890. C. Hart Merriam. Results of a Biological Survey of 

the San Francisco Mountain Region, and the Desert 
of the Little Colorado, Arizona. N. Am. Fauna, 
No. 3, Div. Ornithology and Mammalogy, U. S. 
Dep. Agr., 136 pp., 13 plates, 5 maps. Washing- 

1891. J. A. Allen. On a collectionof Mammals from South- 

ern Texas and North-eastern Mexico. Bull. Am. 
Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. Ill, No. 2, Art. XV, pp. 
219-228. April 29, 1 89 1. New York. 

1210 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1891. Edgar A. Mearns. Description of a new sub-species 
of the Eastern Chipmunk, from the upper Missis- 
sippi region, west of the Great Lakes. Bull. Am. 
Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. Ill, No. 2, Art. XVI, pp. 
229-233. New York. 

1891. J. A. Allen. Notes on new or little known North 
American Mammals, based on recent additions to 
the Collection of Mammals in the American Museum 
of Natural History. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 
Vol. Ill, No. 2, Art. XX, pp. 236-310. June 30, 

1 89 1. New York. 

1891. C. Hart Merriam. Results of a Biological Recon- 

naissance of South Central Idaho. N. A. Fauna, 
No. 5, Div. Ornith. and Mam., U. S. Dep. Agr., 127 
pp., 4 plates. Washington. 

1892. J. A. Allen. The Geographical Distribution of North 

American Mammals. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 
Vol. IV, No. I, Art. XIV, pp. 199-243. (Read before 
N. Y. Acad. Sci. Jan. 26, 1891.) December 29, 

1892. New York. 

1892. C. Hart Merriam. The Geographical Distribution of 
Life in North America, with special reference to the 
Mammalia. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, Vol. VII, 
pp. 1-64 (with map). April 13, 1892. Washington. 

1892. J. B. Tyrrell. Report on North-western Manitoba, 
with portions of the adjacent districts of Assiniboia 
and Saskatchewan. Ann. Rept. Geol. Surv., Canada, 
Vol. V, Part I, pp. 1E-235E. General report on 
explorations made during seasons of 1887, 1888, 
1889, and 1890. A few notes on mammals. 

1892. Horace T. Martin. Castorologia, or the History and 
Traditions of the Canadian Beaver. 8vo, 238 pp., 
54 ills. Montreal and London. 

A List of the Chief Works Cited 1211 

1892. Henry Poland. Fur-bearing Animals in Nature and 

Commerce. 8vo, 392 pp., 16 illustrations. Chiefly 
used for Statistics of Fur returns. Pp. xxii-xxxiii. 

1893. Harrison Allen. A Monograph of the Bats of North 

America. U. S. Nat. Mus., Bull. No. 43, 198 pp. 
38 pll. Washington. 

1893. J. A. Allen. List of Mammals and Birds collected in 
North-eastern Sonora and North-western Chihua- 
hua, Mexico, on the Lumholtz Archaeological Expedi- 
tion, 1890-92. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. V, 
Art. Ill, pp. 27-42. March 16, 1893. New York. 

1893. J. A. Allen, List of Mammals collected by Mr. 
Charles P. Rowley in the San Juan Region of 
Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, with description 
of New Species. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. V, 
Art. VI, pp. 69-84. April 28, 1893. New York. 

1893. J. A. Allen. On a Collection of Mammals from the 
San Pedro Martir Region of Lower California, with 
Notes on other Species, particularly of the Genus 
Sitomys. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. V, Art. 
XII, pp. 181-202. August 18, 1893. New York. 

1893. C. C. Nutting. Rept. Zobl. Expl. Lower Saskatche- 
wan. Bull. Laboratories Nat. Hist. University 
Iowa, Vol. II, No. 3, pp. 235-293. Iowa City, la. 

[Contains a few notes on Manitoba Mammals.] 

1893. Vernon Bailey. The Prairie Ground Squirrels or 

Spermophiles of the Mississippi Valley. Bull. No. 
4, Div. Ornith. and Mam., U. S. Dept. Agr., 69 pp., 
4 maps. Washington. 

1894. J. A. Allen. Notes on Mammals from New Bruns- 

wick, with Descriptions of a New Species of Evo- 
tomys. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. VI, Art. 
Ill, pp. 99-106. April 14, 1894. New York. 

1212 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1894. J. A. Allen. On the Seasonal Change of colour in the 
Varying Hare {Lepus americanus Erxl.)- Bull. Am. 
Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. VI, Art. IV, pp. 107-128. 
May 7, 1894, New York. 

1894. J. A. Allen. On the Mammals of Aransas County, 
Texas, with Descriptions of New Forms of Lepus and 
Oryzotnys. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. VI, 
Art. VI, pp. 165-198. May 31, 1894. New York. 

1894. Frank M. Chapman. Remarks on Certain Land 
Mammals from Florida, with a list of the Species 
known to occur in the State. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. 
Hist., Vol. VI, Art. XIV, pp. 333-346. November 
30, 1894. New York. 

1894. J. A. Allen. Remarks on a second Collection of 

Mammals from New Brunswick, and on the Re- 
discovery of the Genus Neotoma in New York State. 
Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. VI, Art. XVII, pp. 
359-364. December 22, 1894. New York. 

1895. J. A, Allen. List of Mammals collected in the Black 

Hills Region of South Dakota and in Western Kan- 
sas, by Mr. Walter W. Granger, with Field Notes by 
the Collector. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. VII, 
Art. VII, pp. 259-274. August 21, 1895. New 

1895. C. Hart Merriam. Revision of the Shrews of the 
American Genera Blarina and Notiosorex. N. Am. 
Fauna, No. 10, Div. Ornith. and Mam., U. S. Dep. 
Agr., pp. 5-34. Synopsis of the American Shrews 
of the Genus Sorex (same Fauna). Pp. 57-98. 

1895. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. The Long-tailed Shrews of the 
Eastern U. S. N. Am. Fauna, No. 10, Div. Ornith. 
and Mam., U. S. Dep. Agr., pp. 35-56. Wash- 

A List of the Chief Works Cited 1213 

1896. C. Hart Merriam. Synopsis of the Weasels of North 
America. N. Am. Fauna, No. 11, Div. Ornith. and 
Mam., U. S. Dept. Agr., ;^^ pp., 5 plates. Washing- 

1896. Outram Bangs. A review of the Weasels of Eastern 
North America. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington. Vol. 
X, pp. 1-23. February, 1896. Washington. 

1896. Outram Bangs. On a small collection of Mammals 
from Lake Edward, Quebec. Proc. Biol. Soc. 
Washington, Vol. X, pp. 45-52. March 9, 1896. 

1896. C. Hart Merriam. Preliminary Synopsis of the 
American Bears. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, Vol. 
X, pp. 65-83. April 13, 1896. Washington. 

1896. J. A. Allen. List of Mammals collected by Mr. 
Walter W. Granger, in New Mexico, Utah, Wyo- 
ming, and Nebraska, 1895-96, with Field Notes by 
the Collector. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. 
VIII, Art. XV, pp. 241-258. November 25, 1896. 
New York. 

1896. Outram Bangs. A Review of the Squirrels of Eastern 
North America. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, Vol. 
X, pp. 145-167. December 28, 1896. Washington. 

1 896. A. P. Low. List of Mammalia of the Labrador Penin- 
sula, with short notes on their distribution. Ann. 
Rept. Geol. Surv., Canada. Vol. VIII, App. I, pp. 
313-321. Ottawa. 

1896. T. S. Palmer. The Jack Rabbits of the United 
States. Bull. No. 8, Div. Ornith. and Mam., U. S. 
Dep. Agr., 84 pp., 6 plates. Washington. 

1896. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. Genera and Sub-genera of 
Voles and Lemmings. N. A. Fauna, No. 12, Div. 
Ornith. and Mam., U. S. Dep. Agr., 84 pp., 3 plates. 

1214 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1897. Vernon Bailey. Revision of the American Voles of 
the Genus Evotomys. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, 
Vol. XI, pp. 1 13-138. May 13, 1897. Washington. 

1897. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. Notes on the Mammals of 
Ontario. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. 28, 
No. I, pp. 1-44. Boston. 

1897. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. Revision of the North Amer- 
ican Bats of the Family Vespertilionidce. N. Am. 
Fauna, No. 13, Div. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 
140 pp., 3 plates. Washington. 

1897. Alexander Henry, II. The MS. Journals of Alex. 

Henry and David Thompson, 1799-1814. Edited 
by Elliott Coues. 3 vols., 8vo, 916 pp., with maps. 
New York. 

[E. Coues, the editor, says (p. xx) "the main text consists solely of 
Henry's Journal, Thompson's contributions being, lilce my own, 
confined to the foot-notes." It is greatly to be regretted, therefore, 
that the title should have been complicated by the addition of 
Thompson's name.] 

1898. John Fannin. A preliminary Catalogue of the collec- 

tions of Nat. Hist, and Ethnology in the Provincial 
Museum, Victoria, British Columbia. 8vo, 196 pp. 

1898. D. G. Elliott. Lists of species of Mammals from 
Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho. Nevada and Cali- 
fornia. Field Col. Mus. Pub. 27, Zool. Ser., Vol. I, 
No. 10, pp. 193-221. March, 1898. Chicago. 

1898. J. A. Allen. Revision of the Chickarees, or American 
Red Squirrels (sub-genus Tamiasciurus). Bull. Am. 
Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. X, Art. XIV, pp. 249-298. 
July 22, 1898. New York. 

1 898. Outram Bangs. A List of the Mammals of Labrador. 
The Am. Nat., Vol. XXXII, pp. 489-507. July, 
1898. Boston. 

A List of the Chief Works Cited 1215 

1898. Outram Bangs. The Land Mammals of Peninsular 

Florida, and the Coast Region of Georgia. Proc. 
Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. XXVIIl, No. 7, pp. 
157-235- Boston. 

1899. J.A.Allen. The North American Arboreal Squirrels. 

American Naturalist, Vol. XXXIII, No. 392, pp. 
635-642. August, 1899. Boston. 

1899. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. Preliminary List of the Mam- 
mals of New York. Bull. N. Y. State Museum. 
Vol. VI, No. 29, pp. 274-390. October, 1899. 

1899. Edward A. Preble. Revision of the Jumping Mice of 
the Genus Zapus. N. Am. Fauna, No. 15, Biol. 
Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 41 pp., i plate. Washington. 

1899. C. Hart Merriam. Result of a Biological Survey of 

Mount Shasta, Cal. N. Am. Fauna, No. 16, Div. 
Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 179 pp., 5 plates, 46 
text figures. Washington. 

1900. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr. Key to the Land Mammals of 

North-eastern North America. Bull. N. Y. State 
Mus., No. 38, Vol. VIII, 160 pp. October, 1900. 

1900. C. Hart Merriam. Preliminary Revision of the 
North American Red Foxes. Proc. Wash. Acad. 
Sci., Vol. II, pp. 661-676. December 28, 1900. 

1900. Vernon Bailey. Revision of American Voles of the 
Genus Microtus. N. Am. Fauna, No. 17, Div. 
Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 88 pp., 5 plates. 


1900. W. H. Osgood. Results of a Biological Reconnais- 
sance of the Yukon River Region. N. Am. Fauna, 
No. 19, Div. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 100 pp., 
7 plates. Washington. 

1^210 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1901. D. G. Elliott. A Synopsis of the Mammals of North 
America and the Adjacent Seas. Pub. No. 45, 
Zool. Ser., Vol. II, Field Columbian Museum. 8vo, 
471 pp. Chicago. 

1901. Gerrit S. Miller, Jr.,and Jas, A. G. Rehn, System- 
atic results of the study of North American Land 
Mammals to the close of the year 1 900. Proc. Boston 
Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. XXX, No. i, 352 pp. Boston. 

[Many of my references to ancient works are taken from this.] 

1901. A. H. Howell. Revision of the Skunks of the Genus 
Chincha. N. A. Fauna, No. 20, Div. Biol. Surv., 
U. S. Dep. Agr., 62 pp., 8 plates. Washington. 


1901. W. H. Osgood. Natural History of the Queen Char- 

lotte Islands, British Columbia. Natural History of 
the Cook Inlet Region, Alaska. N. A. Fauna, No. 
21. Div. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 87 pp., 7 
plates. Washington. 

1902. Ernest Thompson Seton. American Woodcraft. 

Ladies' Home Journal, May, 1902, pp. 15 and 41. 
Article on the tracks of animals. 14 ills. Phila- 

1902. Ernest Thompson Seton. American Woodcraft. 
Ladies' Home Journal, June, 1902, p. 15. Article 
on the tracks of animals. 11 ills. Philadelphia. 

1902. Ernest Thompson Seton. American Woodcraft — 
'Freezing.' Ladies' Home Journal, Novemher, 1902, 
p. 15. Article on 'freezing,' a protective device of 
animals. 4 ills. Philadelphia. 

1902. Witmer Stone and W. E. Cram. American Ani- 
mals. A popular guide to the Mammals of North 
America, North of Mexico, with intimate biogra- 
phies of the more familiar species. 4to, 318 pp., 
with many illustrations. New York. 

A List of the Chief Works Cited 1217 

1902. Edward A. Preble. A Biological Investigation of 
the Hudson Bay Region. N. Am. Fauna, No. 22. 
Div. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 140 pp., 14 plates. 

1902. Edwin Hollis. Collection Small Mammals in N. W. 

T., Canada. The Zoologist, August 15, 1902. Pp. 
293-298. London. 

[Notes on 22 species taken near Touchwood Hills, Sask.] 

1903. Samuel N. Rhoads. The Mammals of Pennsylvania 

and New Jersey. 8vo, 266 pp., with plates and a 
faunal map. Privately published. Philadelphia. 

1903. T. Roosevelt, T. S. Vandyke, D. G. Elliott, 

and A. J. Stone. The Deer Family. 334 pp., 7 
maps by C. Hart Merriam, and 25 illustrations 
chiefly by C. Rungius. New York. 

1904. Ernest T. Seton. The Master Plowman of The 

West. Century Magazine, June. A study of Tho- 
momys. Pp. 299-307, 8 illustrations by the author. 
New York. 

1904. J. D. Figgins. Field Notes on the Birds and Mam- 
mals of the Cook Inlet Region of Alaska. Proc. 
Linn. Soc. N. Y. December 19. New York. 

1904. William Temple Hornaday. The American Nat- 
ural History. 4to, 449 pp., with many illustrations. 
New York. 

1904. W.H.Osgood. A Biological Reconnaissance of the 
Base of the Alaska Peninsula. N. Am. Fauna, No. 
24, Div. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 86 pp., 7 
plates. Washington. 

1904. Woods Hutchinson. Animal Marriage. Cotem- 
porary Revieiu, October, 1904. Pp. 485-496. 

1904-5-6. J. G. Millais. The Mammals of Great Britain 
and Ireland. 3 vols., roy. 410, many illustrations. 

1218 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1905. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Secrets of the 
Trail. Country Life in America, June, 1905. Pp. 
202-205. 15 ills, by the author. Gives the trails of 
many common animals. New York. 

1905. Vernon Bailey. Biological Survey of Texas. N.Am. 
Fauna, No. 25, Bur. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. Agr., 
222 pp., 16 plates, 23 text figures. Washington. 

1905. R. MacFarlane. Notes on Mammals collected and 

observed in the northern Mackenzie River District, 
north-west Territories of Canada, with remarks on 
explorers and explorations of the Far North. Proc. 
U. S. Nat. Mus., Vol. XXVIII, pp. 673-764. No. 
1405. Washington. 

1906. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Wapiti and His 

Antlers. Scnbners Magazine, January, 1906. Pp. 
15-33, I map, 16 illustrations, 6 photographs. New 

1906. Edward R. Warren. The Mammals of Colorado. 
Colorado College Publ., Vol. XI, No. 46. Sci. 
Series, pp. 225-274. January, 1906. Colorado 

1906. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Moose and His 
Antlers. Scnbners Magazine, February, 1906. Pp. 
157-178, I map, 21 illustrations, 4 photographs. 
New York. 

1906. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Caribou and His 
Kindred. Scribner's Magazine, April, 1906. Pp. 
426-443, I map, 15 illustrations, 5 photographs. 
New York. 

1906. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Prong-horned 
Antelope. Scribner's Magazine, July, 1906. Pp. 
33-49, I map, 10 illustrations, 6 photographs. New 

A List of the Chief Works Cited 1219 

1906. J. A. Allen. Mammals from the States of Sinaloa 
and Jalisco, Mexico, collected by J. H. Batty, during 
1904 and 1905. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. 
XXII, Art. XII, pp. 191-262. July 25, 1906. New 

1906. Ernest Thompson Seton. The White-tailed (Vir- 
ginian) Deer and Its Kin. Scribners Magazine, 
September, 1906. Pp. 321-341, i map, 20 illus- 
trations, I photograph. New York. 

1906. Ernest Thompson Seton. The American Bison or 
Buffalo. Scribners Magazine, October, 1906. Pp. 
385-405, 2 maps, 16 illustrations, 6 photographs. 
New York 

1906. William T. Hornaday. Camp-fires in the Cana- 
dian Rockies, by William T. Hornaday and John M. 
Phillips. 353 pp., with 2 maps and many illustra- 
tions, chiefly photographs. New York. 

1906. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Smallest of all 
Beasts of Prey. fVestem Sportsman. Pp. 316-318. 
December, 1906. Account of Putorius rixosus, with 
map and illustrations. Winnipeg. 

1906. J. S. Talbot. Foxes at Home and Reminiscences. 
8vo, 155 pp., 13 illustrations, mostly photographs. 

1906. Charles C. Adams. An Ecological Survey in 

Northern Michigan. 8vo, 133 pp., 21 illustrations; 
many lists, including Mammals. 

1907. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Merry Chipmunk. 

Success Magazine, May, 1907. Pp. 328-331, also 
pp. 368, 369 and 370; 4 illustrations by author. 
New York. 

1907. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Snowshoe Rabbit. 
Everybody's Magazine, May, 1907. Pp. 599-608; 
9 illustrations and map by author. New York. 

12^20 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

1907. Ernest Thompson Seton. Dogs of Song. The 
Life-habits and Wonderful Vocal Abilities of the 
Coyote. Success Magazine, August, 1907. Pp. 537, 
539 and 562-3, I map, 7 drawings, i photograph. 
New York. 

1907. A. Franklin Shull. Habitsof the Short-tailed Shrew 

Blartna brevicauda (Say). Am. Nat., Augus-t, 1907. 
Pp. 495-522, 10 illustrations. Boston. 

1907. Ernest Thompson Seton. The Habits of Wolves. 

American Magazine, October, 1907. Pp. 636-645; 
9 illustrations by the author. New York. 

1907. Edgar Alexander Mearns. Mammals of the 

Mexican Boundary of the United States. Part I, 
Didelphiidce to Muridce. U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 56, 
530 pp. ; many maps and illustrations. Washington. 

1908. Edward R. ^A^ar^en. Further notes on the Mam- 

mals of Colorado. Colorado College Publication. 
General Series No. t,^, Engin. Ser., Vol. I, No. 4, 
pp. 59-90. Colorado Springs, January, 1908. 

1908. Edward A. Preble. A Biological Investigation of 

the Athabaska-Mackenzie Region. N. A. Fauna, 
No. 27, Bur. Biol. Survey, U. S. Dep. Agr., 574 pp., 
Plate XXV; text figures, 16. Washington, October 
26, 1908. 

1909. Wilfred H. Osgood. Revision of the Mice of the 

American Genus Peromyscus. N. A. Fauna, No. 28, 
Bur. Biol. Survey, U. S. Dep. Agr., 285 pp., 8 plates, 
12 text figures (/'. e., maps). Washington. 

1909. E. W. Nelson. The Rabbits of North America. 
N. A. Fauna, No. 29, Bur. Biol. Surv., U. S. Dep. 
Agr., 314 pp.. Plates XIII; text figures, chiefly 
maps, 19. Washington, August, 1909. 



The main classification is alphabetic, but many of the sub-divisions 
are synoptic, as this plan seemed more likely to be of service. For example, 
the entry "Antelope" is strictly alphabetic, but the sub-headings of the 
'Antelope chapter,' given next, are in their actual or synoptic order. 

Under the name of each authority the alphabetic order is based on the 
capitalized name of the animal. 

Every important fact is entered under at least two different headings. 

A DAMS, C. C, on Badger range, 998. 

Ad-jee-dah-mo or Red-squirrel, 307. 

Adney, Tappan, on bull Moose fidelity, 

on word 'Pekonk, ' 926. 
^Esthetic instincts of Animals, 30. 
Agassiz, Lake, Map 2; 6, 7. 
Agassiz, L., on range of Red-backed Vole, 

Age attained by animals, ^t,. 
Ah-ging-goos or Chipmunk, 337. 
Ah-gwin-gwis or Chipmunk, 337. 
Ah-kuk-wah-djees or Woodchuck, 416. 
Ah - me - ko Wah - wah - be - gah - not - see 

or Meadow-mouse, 515. 
Ah-mik or Beaver, 447. 
Ah-mik-kuk or Beaver, 447. 
Ah-misk or Beaver, 447. 
Ahneemeekong, Indian interpreter, 515, 

and Introduction, p. x. 
Ah-pe-kwa-nah-djee or Little Brown-bat, 

Ah-pe-tchi-mu-sis or Mule-deer, 114. 
Ah-pi-chee-ah-tik or Antelope, 209. 
Ah-pik-wa-sees or Deermouse, 490. 
Ah-tah-chah or Chipmunk, 337. 
Ah-tik or Caribou, 187. 
Alces (genus), 144. 

" alces 146. 

" americanus, 144, 151. 

" gigas, 146. 
Alkaline Lakes of Manitoba, 10. 

Allard, C, herd of Buffalo, 299. 
Allen, Harrison, on Bat-lice and bedbugs, 
on Bat-wings, 1155. 
Allen, Dr. J. A., on Antelope epidemic, 


on Buffalo destroyed by Indians, 261. 

on Buffalo range, 255. 

on Geographic distrib., 11, 12. 

on Moose in Mass., 148. 

on coition of Red -bat, 1186. 

on colour change of Snowshoe-rabbit, 

on races of Snowshoe-rabbit, 622. 
Allen, William, on last of southern Buffalo, 

Ambystoma tigrinum, in Gopher hole, 

572; in Ground-squirrel hole, 399. 
American Blackbear, see Blackbear. 
Amusements of animals, 29. 

Antelope, 241-242. 

Badger, 1000. 

Buffalo, 287. 

Chipmunk, 345, 361. 

Elk, 52. 

Flying-squirrel, 445. 

Jumping-mouse, 594. 

Lynx, 682. 

Moose, 178, 181. 

Mule-deer, 135. 

Otter, 829-834. 

Red-squirrel, 313, 330. 


1224 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Snowshoe-rabbit, 628. 
Weasel, 856. 
Wolf, 779-780. 
Anderson, A. A., on number of Antelope 

in 1900, 221. 
Anderson, Thomas (H. B. Co, officer at 
Kort Smith), on attachment of mated 
Foxes, 714. 

on Fox caching eggs, 733. 
Antelope, Pronghorned, PI. XIV, p. 209; 
XV, p. 225; XVI, p. 225; XVII, p. 22s; 
XVIII, p. 232; XIX, p. 241; XX, p. 
244; XXI, p. 244. 
biography, 209; names, 209, 212, 214; 
characters, size, weight, colour, 210; 
poses (figs.), tracks (figs.), 211; 
races, discovery, 212; life-histor)-, 
range, 214; Range Map 9, 213; in 
Manitoba, 214; home-range, 216; 
migration, 217; stampede, 218; an- 
cient numbers, 219; present num- 
bers, 221; shedding of horns, 222, 
223; horns of doe, record horns, 
223; freak horns (fig.), object of 
prong, discograph, 224; its use, 225; 
its mechanism (fig.), 226; glands, 
227; voice, eye, 228; weeping, feet, 
229; speech, 230; gait, 231; speed 
scale, 233; curiosity, 234; foods, 
no drink on Plains, 235; domestica- 
tion, 236; enemies, disease, 237; 
winter life, young, 238; mother 
bravery, 239; fawn's life, 240; Sep 
tember, 241; play, 241-242; mat- 
ing, 242; polygamy, duels, 243; use 
of horns, 244; a despairing buck, 
244, 245. 
Antilocapra (genus), 210. 
Antilocapra americana, 209, 213. 

" " mexicana, 212, 213. 

" " palmata, 212, 213. 

Antilocapridx (Family), 210. 

" probably part of Bovida;, 

Ap-is-chech-i-koosh or Mule-deer, 114. 
Appccooscsh or Deermouse, 490. 
Appek-kusis or Deermouse, 490. 
Arctic Deermouse, see Deermouse, Arctic. 
Arctomys franklinii, 372. 
ArgoU, Sir Samuel, saw first Buffalo in 

Virginia, 252. 
Arocoun, see Raccoon. 

Arvicola austcrus minor, 533. 
" borealis, 558. 
" drummondii, 515. 
" gapperi, 506. 
" riparius, 526. 
Asapan or Flying-squirrel, 437. 
Asnes sauvage or Caribou, 190. 
Atjackashew or Mink, 872. 
Atkinson, John, on Badger range, 998. 
Audubon (John James) and Bachman 
(Rev. John) 

on courage of Antelope mother, 239. 

on gait of Antelope, 230. 

on nursing Antelope, 239. 

on Badger weight, 996. 

on Beaver weight, 447. 

on Blackbear eating arum, 1081. 

on migration of Blackbear, 1058. 

on sign-boards of Blackbear, 1060. 

on size of Blackbear, 1053. 

on mating of Buffalo cow, 287. 

on size of Buffalo cow, 249. 

on size of Caribou, 187. 

on carnivorous Chipmunks, 355. 

on cheek-pouches of Chipmunks, 357- 

on slaughter of Chipmunks by Wea- 
sel, 361. 

on stores of Chipmunks, 360. 

on winter habits of Chipmunks, 362. 

on Deer killed by Lynx, 692. 

on Fisher killing Marten, 938. 

on habits of Fisher, 935. 

on voice of Fisher, 931. 

on weight of Fisher, 927. 

on amusements of Flying -squirrel, 

on mother-love in Flying -squirrel, 

on nursing of Flying-squirrel, 442. 
on range of Flying-squirrel, 440. 
on speed of Flying-squirrel, 445. 
on paternal instinct of Hare, 630. 
on Jumping-mouse, 591. 
on food of Jumping-mouse, 597. 
on speed of Jumping-mouse, 595. 
on storage of Jumping-mouse, 597. 
on young of Jumping-mouse, 593- 

on captive Kit-fox, 704. 
on food of Lynx, 68q. 
on Lynx killed by Porcupine, 690. 

Synoptic Index 


Audubon (John James) and Bachnian 
(Rev. John) (Continued). 
on Lynx kilHng Deer, 692. 
on Mink catching trout, 883. 
on mating of Mink, 877. 
on food of Mole-shrew, 1128. 
on young of Mole-shrew,. 11 24. 
on Otter sHdes, 831. 
on Porcupine girdling, 612. 
on Porcupine home-range, 606. 
on Porcupine numbers, 6og. 
on Porcupine repelling foe, 616. 
on Porcupine voice, 609. 
on Raccoon and com, 1025. 
on Raccoon and turtle, 1023. 
on Raccoon and water, 1026. 
on nest of Star-nosed Mole, 1140. 
on blood lust of Weasel, 361, 850. 
on Weasel climbing tree, 854. 
on good service of Weasels, 851. 
on home-range of White-tailed Deer, 

on imperfect eye-sight of White-tailed 

Deer, 84. 
on locked antlers of 3 White-tailed 

Deer, 83. 
on mating of White-tailed Deer, 105. 
on number of fawns of White-tailed 

Deer, 96. 
on reproductive age of White-tailed 

Deer, 97. 
on sex segregation of White-tailed 

Deer, 96. 
on submerged buck of White-tailed 

Deer, 103. 
on voice of White-tailed Deer, 86. 
on nest of Wolverine, 949. 
on travels of a Wolverine, 948. 
on weak eyes of Wolverine, 960. 
on hibernation of Woodchuck, 427- 

on mother-love of Woodchuck, 426. 
on young of Woodchuck, 427. 
Austin, Mary, on hawk and Badger co 
operation, 1008. 

on the Coyote's way of hunting, 800. 
on snow-blind Wolverine, 960. 
Austral Zone, 19, 20, 21. 
Awaskees or Wapiti, 37. 


ACHMAN, Rev. John, D.D., co- 
author, with Audubon, of the 

"Quadrupeds of North America," see 
Audubon and Bachman. 
Backhouse, James, on Wolf lek, 780. 
Badger, Common, of America, PI. 
LXXXIV, p. 1000. LXXXV. p. 1008. 
biography, names, size, 995; weight, 
colour, races, life-history, range, 
996; Range Map 53, 997; home- 
range, in Manitoba, environment, 
998; paws (fig.), abundance, 999; 
social amusements, 1000; inter- 
communication, mating, looi; ges- 
tation, dens, hole (fig.), young, 
speed, 1003; habits, 1004; as a 
fighter, 1005; winter sleep, food, 
1006; Scatology PI. LXXXV p. 
1008. Badger and Skunk, friend- 
ships. Badger and Coyote, 1007; 
Badger and lost child, 1008; use to 
man, fur returns, 1009. 
Badger, Thickwood, see Woodchuck, 

Bagg, Dr. Chnton L., on Wolves in New- 
foundland, 753. 
Bagster, C. B., on Moose in P. E. Id., 148. 
Bailey, Vernon, on Badger home-range, 
on Bear trees, 1061. 
on big Brown-bat eaten by homed 

owl, 1 181. 
on Chipmunk at Turtle Mt., 339. 
on Fr. Ground-squirrel eating flesh 

on calling of Grasshopper-mouse, 486. 
on food of Grasshopper-mouse, 489 
on habits of Grasshopper-mouse, 488 
on haunts of Grasshopper-mouse, 486, 
on range of Grasshopper-mouse, 485 
on nest of Jumping-mouse, 592, 599 
on food of Least Vole, 537. 
on Marsh-shrew, 11 15. 
on Microtus group, 517. 
on sub-genus Pedomys, 533. 
on food of Prairie Deermouse, 504. 
on range of Prairie Deermouse, 499- 

on sociability of Prairie Deermouse, 

on home-life of Raccoon, 1019. 
on home-range of Raccoon, 1016. 
on Manitoba form of Red-backed 
Vole, 509. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Bailey, Vernon (Conlinued). 

on Prairie form of Red-backed Vole, 


on range of Red-backed Vole, 508. 

on food of Rich. Ground-squirrel, 389. 

on Richardson Shrew in Minnesota, 

on range of Star-nosed Mole, 1137. 

on burrow of Striped Ground-squir- 
rel, 399. 

on food of Striped Ground-squirrel, 

on lizard-eating of Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 405. 

on range of Striped Ground-squirrel, 

on stomach contents of Striped 

Ground-sciuirrel, 407. 
on voice of Striped Ground-squirrel, 

on winter life of Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 413. 
on breeding age of Wolves and 

Coyotes, 799. 
on pairing of Wolves, 757. 
on killing Wolves, 787. 
Baillie-Grohman, W. A., on Caribou life- 
belts, 200. 

on Wapiti battle, 64. 
Baird Mouse, see Dcermouse, Prairie. 
Baird, Spencer Fullerton, on weight of 
Common Shrew, 1094. 

on family life of Fisher, 930. 
Baker, A. B., on Blackbear breeding in 
captivity, 1063. 

on reprobate Blackbear cub, 1073. 
on reprobate Blackbear mother, 1073. 
on captive Grizzly breeding, 1045. 
Baker, Dr. Frank, on Buffalo census, 300. 

on parturition of Buffalo, 277. 
Bangs, Outram, on Least Weasel, 858-859. 
on environment of Star-nosed Mole, 

on range of Star-nosed Mole, 1137. 
Barber, Charles, on Wapiti in Manitoba, 

Barren-ground Bear, 1035. 
Barren-ground Caribou, 189, 191, 192. 
Barton, A. S., on Buffalo in Manitoba, 
1883, 256. 
on Coyote den, 796. 
on Greyhound Coyote, 810. 

Barton, A. S. {Continued). 

on habits of young Coyote, 798. 

on migration of Coyotes, 799. 

on paternal instinct of Coyote, 796. 

on Coyote storage, 804. 

on "Three-legged Terror," Coyote, 

on habits of Jumping-mouse, 604. 
on fluctuation of Little Chipmunk, 

on mating of Prairie-hare, 663. 
on parasites of Prairie-hare, 670. 
on Prairie-hare range, 658. 
on Prairie-hare young, 664. 
on pile of Rabbit-bones, 651. 
on speed of Red-fox, 726. 
on Rich. Ground-squirrel in Feb., 

on Skunk dens in marsh, 973. 
Barton, Dr. B. S., on Elk in Pennsylvania, 


on name "Wapiti," 4. 

on torpor of Jum])ing-mouse, 602. 

Bat, Big Brown, or Big Brown-bat. 

biography, names, size, 1177; head- 
(fig.), 1 148; weight, colour, 1177; 
races, life-history, distribution, 1178; 
Range Map 66, 11 79; home-range, 
environment, 11 78; breeding, food- 
habits, enemies, 1180; great homed- 
owl, house-flyer, and Rafinesque, 
vermm on, 1181; hibemant, 1182. 

Bat, Blunt-nosed, see Bat, Little Brown. 

Bat, Carolina, see Bat, Big Brown. 

Bat, Great Northern, or Hoarj'-bat. 

biography, names, size, 1191; head 
(fig.), 1148; teeth (fig.), 1 192; 
colour, 1 191; life-histor)', distribu- 
tion, 1192; Range Map 68, 1193; in- 
dividual range, environment, 1192; 
time of night, 1194, iios; lurking 
place, voice, unsociable, rut, 11 95; 
gestation, young, migration, 1196; 
travelling with swallows, powers, 
1 197; visit Bermudas, habits, 1198; 
its appeal to admiration, 1199- 

Bat, Hoar)', see Bat, Great Northern. 

Bat, Little Brown, or Little Brown-bat. 

biography, names, 1147; size, colour, 

head to compare with others (fig), 

1 148; compared with subulatus, 

1148, 1163; races, 1148; life- 

Synoptic Index 


history, range, 1150; Range Map 
63, 1149; environment, sociability, 
flight, voice, 1150; mating, gesta- 
tion, 1152; young, parturition, 
1153; habits, powers, sense-power, 
1 154; sense-bodies, 1157; flight, 
1158; abnormal noisy flight, speed, 
food, iisg; toilet, sleeping, strange 
immunity, 1160; migration and hi- 
bernation, 1 161; enemies, parasites, 

Bat, Red, or Red-bat. 

biography, names, size, 1183; head 
(fig.), 1148; colour, 1183; races, 
life -history, range, 1184; Range 
Map 67, 1185; environment, socia- 
bility, mating, coition in air, breed- 
ing in Texas, 1186; gestation, 
young, 1 187; mother-love, habits, 
1188; asllousc-bat, ii8q; migrant, 
ii8g, IIQ7; powers, 1190. 

Bat, Say, or Say Bat. 

compared with Little Brown-bat, 
1148, 1163; head (fig.), 1148; bi- 
ography, names, races, life-history, 
range, 1163; Range Map 64, 11 64; 
habits, 1165. 

Bat scale of crepuscularity, 1 1 73. 

Bat, Serotine, see Bat, Big Brown. 

Bat, Silvery, or Silvery-bat. 

biography, names, size, colour, 1166; 
skull (fig.), 1167; head (fig.), 1148; 
life-history, range, in Manitoba, 
1167; Range Map 65, 1168; en- 
vironment, 1 167; individual range, 
voice, gregarious, rut, ii6q; gesta- 
tion, 1 1 70; nesting in crow's nest, 
young, II 71; habits, twilight table, 
crepuscularity, 1172; Bat time 
table, battery of thousands of Bats, 
1 1 73; Bats exterminate mosqui- 
toes, 1 1 74; swimming, enemies, 
horned-owl, moonlight, departure, 
1175; migration, route, 1176, 1197. 

Battery or Bat-roost of thousands at 
Seneca Point, 1173. 

Bay-lynx, 679. 

tail (fig.), 679. 
" speed of, 688. 

Bear, Admiralty Ids., 1035. 
" Barren -ground, 1035. 
" Black, see Blackbear. 

Bear, Brown, 1052. 

" Cinnamon, 1052. 

" Dall's, 1035. 

" Grizzly, see Grizzly-bear. 

" Kadiak Brown, 1035. 

" Kenai Ids., 1035. 

" Kidder's, 1035. 

" Peninsular, 1035. 

" Sitka, 1035. 

" Yellow, 1052. 
Bear's Scatology, PI. XCIX, p. 1086. 
Bcal, F. E. L., on grub-eating of Striped 

Ground-squirrel, 404. 

on mouse-eating of Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 406. 
Beaver, Canadian, PI. XXXVII, p. 447; 

XLV, p. 652. 
biography, names, size, weight, 447; 
colour, compared with European, 
races, tails (figs.), life-history, 
range, 448; Range Map 25, 449; 
in Manitoba, Henry's fur returns, 
450; numbers, 451-452; environ- 
ments, home-range, dam, 453; 
select small stream, dam section 
(fig.), 454; perpetual vigilance, no 
stakes, no logs, Yancey Beaver, 
455; Yancey Ponds (figs.), 456- 
457,459; size of dams, 456; docks, 
457; canals, 457-458; 70-foot 
canals, 459; burrows, bank Beaver, 
wash, 460; 3 canals (figs.), 461; 
Beaver burrow (fig.), 462; bank 
lodge (fig), 462-463; false lodge, 
ventilation, 462; lodge, 463; chip 
(fig.), food, 464; felling trees, 464- 
465; aspen cut (fig), 466; storage, 
467; in working, intercommunica- 
tion, diving (fig.), mud-pies, 468; 
feet (figs.), 469; castor, working 
(figs.), sociables, 470; musk -bog, 
life, nest, young, 471; father, Yel- 
lowstone Park, 472; outcasts, 472- 
473; enemies, 473; and Muskrat, 
and ant-hills, and blackbirds, 474; 
intelligence, speed, diving, 475; 
sanitation, disease, popular errors 
about, 476; scatology, PI. XLV, 
p. 652; uses, fur returns, restora- 
tion, 477; emblem of Canada, 
Bedson Buffalo herd, 298. 

1228 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Bedford, Duchess of, on disease of Deer, 

Bedford's, Duke of, Builalo herd, 260. 

on Wapiti antlers (fig.), S6, 57. 
Belette a longue queue or Long-tailed 

Weasel, 865. 
Belette de Bonaparte or Short-tailed Wea- 
sel, 840. 
Belette, la Petite, or Least Weasel, 858. 
Bell, Dr. Gordon, killing Bear in water 
on Least Weasel range, 860. 
on young Muskrat, 550. 
on Rabbit plague, 642. 
Bell, Thomas, on British Shrew, 1108. 
on Crossopus, 11 15. 
on Little Weasel of Great Britain, 
Bell, Dr. Robert, on Beaver range, 450. 
on Flying-squirrel range, 440. 
on Geology of Manitoba, 3. 
on range of Little Chipmunk, 367. 
on Moose change of range, 150. 
on fertility of North-west, 580. 
on Porcupine numbers, 608. 
on range of Star-nosed Mole, 1137. 
Bemis, W. E., on play of Hare, 629. 

on Moose calves hiding, 167. 
Berrendos or Antelope, 212, 214. 
Bete puante or Skunk, 966. 
Biche or Wapiti, 37. 
Bicknell, E. P., on Porcupine noises, 609. 

on Porcupine stupidity, 612. 
Bierstadt, F., large Moose antlers, 158. 
Big Brown-bat, see Bat, Big Brown. 
Bishop, Dr. L. B., discoverer of a new 

Rabbit, 653. 
Bison, American, see Buffalo, American. 
Bison (genus), 247. 
" bison, 247, 255. 
" " athabascse, 250. 

Blackbacked Shrew, see Shrew, Richard- 
Black -bat, see Bat, Silvery. 
Blackbear, American, PI. XCII, p. 1054; 
XCIII, p. 1062; XCIV, p. 1062; XCV, 
p. 1062; XCVI, p. 1062; XCVII, p. 
1062; XCVIII, p. 1074. XCLX, p. 
biography, names, size, 1052, 1053; 
weight, 1052; colour, 1053, 1054; 
paws (fig.), 1053; kinds, life- 

history, range, 1055; Range Map 
56, 1057; abundance, 1055-1056; 
fluctuations, 1056; home-range, 
migration, 1058; trails, 1058-1060; 
sociability, intercommunication, 
1060; bear-trees, 1060-1063; aspen 
with claw marks (fig.), mating, 
1063; bear storage, winter-den- 
ning, 1064; breeding, 1066; ges- 
tation, young, mastology of Black- 
bear (fig.), size of young, 1067; 
number of young, 1068; develop- 
ment of young, 1068-1069; training 
of young, 1069-1070; spring, 1070; 
family life, 1071; little Bear lost, 
1071-1072; troubles of another lit- 
tle Bear, 1072-1073; Bear crimes, 
1073; summer life, the father, dis- 
position, 1074; intelligence, 1075; 
a mischief-maker. Bear poses (fig.), 
1076; strange incidents, climber, 
1077; practical joker, swimmer, 
wallower, 1078; paw print (fig.), 
1079; doping, food, 1080; arum 
eaten by Bears, 1081 ; ants eaten by 
Bears, 1082; wasps eaten by Bears, 
1083; fruit eaten by Bears, canni- 
balism by Bears, 1084; Scatology, 
PI. XCLX, p. 1086. Bear-tracks 
(fig.), 1085; spring advent, meat, 
1086; value, Bear poses (fig.), 1087. 

Blackbear biting own paws, 32. 

Black Buffalo-runner or Carberry Wolf, 

Blackburn, W. H., on Wolf pups, 760. 
Black-cat, see Fisher. 
Black-footed Ferrets paired, 847. 
Black-fox, name, in some parts, of Fisher, 

Blacktail, see Mule-deer. 
Blacktail, Rocky Mountain, see Mule-deer. 
Blacktailed Weasel, see New York Weasel. 
Blackwell, J., on Blackbear in mischief, 

Blain & Purdy, freak antlers of Mule-deer 

(fig.), 123. 
Blair, Dr. W. Reid, on Rabbit plague, 646, 

Blaireau d'Amerique or Badger, 995. 
Blake, Prof. F. L., on twilight at Toronto, 

Blarina (genus), 1116. 

Synoptic Index 


Blarina brevicauda, 1116, 1117, 1119. 
" " aloga, III 7, 1 1 19. 

" " carolinensis, 1117, 11 19. 

" " compacta, 11 17, 1119. 

" " hulophaga, 1117, 1119. 

" " peninsulae, 1117, 11 19. 

Blue-foxes on Pribilof Ids., 710, 
Blundell, C. E., on British Badger's play, 

Blunt-nosed Bat, see Bat, Little Brown. 
Bobcat, see Lynx. 

Boger, H. W. O., on last Buffalo in Mani- 
toba, 258. 

on Mink going off with mallard, 
Bog-lemming PI. XXXLX, p. 506; XLV, 
p. 652. 

biography, names, size, colour, 558; 
races, life-history, range, 560; Range 
Map 32, 559; habits, 560. 
Bog-mouse, see Bog-lemming. 
Booth, E. T., on pack of Weasels, 844. 
Boreal Zone, 17, ig, 21. 
Bos bison, 247. 
Boscowitz, D. A., on Ermine market, 857; 

assistance from, x. 
Bounding Blacktail, see Mule-deer. 
Bovidae (Family), 247. 
Brackenridge, H. M., on Grizzly in N. 

Dakota, 1038. 
Brairo or Badger, 995. 
Bray, J. H. G., on raising kid Antelopes, 

Brewster, William, on carnivorous Chip- 
munks, 355. 

on Chipmunks climbing, 353. 

on Rabbit swimming, 637. 

on a Red-squirrel not carnivorous, 

on Red-squirrel pairing, 313. 
Brodie, W. G. A., on Red-squirrel, 311. 

on Skunk aquatics, 985. 
Brondgeest, J. T., on Antelope at White- 
water, Man., 215. 
Brown, Arthur Erwin, on Grizzly climb- 
ing, 1046. 
Brown-bat, Big, see Bat, Big Brown. 
Brown-bat, Little, see Bat, Little Brown. 
Brown-bear, 1052. 
Brown, M., on record horns of Buffalo, 

Brown, Russell, on Badger pair, looi. 

Bruner, Lawrence, on Fr. Ground-squirrel 
eating mice, 378. 

on Mouse killed by Ground-squirrel, 
Bryce, Dr. George, on Geology of Manito- 
ba, 7, 8. 
Buffalo, American, or Bison, PI. XXII, p. 
247; XXIII, p. 260; XXIV, p. 271; 
XXV, p. 271; XXVI, p. 285; XXVII, 
p. 285; XXVIII, p. 290; XXIX, p. 
290; XXX, p. 295; XXXI, p. 300. 
biography, names, 247; characters, 
247, 248; size, head, horns, 248; 
normal horns (figs.), freak horns 
(figs.), 275; robe, 249, 250, 283; 
weight, 249; colour, 249, 250; 
white Buffalo, races, history, 250; 
earliest portrait (fig.), 252, 253; 
life-history, range, 253; Range Map 
10,255; in Manitoba, 253-258; en- 
vironment, 258; Map II, forests, 
etc., 257; ancient numbers, 259; 
rate of increase, 261; migrations, 
261-267; Map 12, of migrations, 
264; enemies, blizzards, 267; 
Wolves, prairie-fires, blind Buffalo, 
270; bogs, Indians, 271; river ice, 
271-273; life-history, cow leader, 
274; clannish, 276; gestation, 
labor, calf, 277; the fatherly father, 
Wolves and calf, 278; the motherly 
mother, 279, 280; calves hide, 280- 
281; spring life, 281; bull (fig.), 
persistent calf (fig.), 282; Beaver 
robe, 250, 283; cowbirds, buffalo- 
birds, 283, 284, 285; the wallow, 
285; rubbing, 286; sanitation, 
amusements, mating, 287; polyg- 
amy, combats, old bull, 288; poli- 
tics, 289; bull and Wolves, 290- 
291; autumn life, age, 291; ex- 
termination, 292; the slaughter, 
293; in the 70's, 294; last of south 
herd, 294, 295, 296; north herd, 
296; in the 8o's, in Canada, 297; 
domestication, Bedson herd, 298; 
"Cattalo," 299 (figs.), 282-283; 
Allard herd, Buffalo Wool Com- 
pany, 299; census, 300; service to 
man, 301; his monument, Buffalo 
trails, 302; story of Plains (fig.), 

ii>3() Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Buffalo-runner, same as Gray-wolf, 749. 
Buffalo-wolf, same as Gray-wolf, 749. 
Buffalo, Wood, 250. 
Buffalo Wool Company, 299. 
Bunn, R. N., on Buffalo killed by bliz- 
zards, 267-269. 
Bumham, J. B., on Bear tracks, 1059. 
Burroughs, John, on Chipmunk numbers, 


on sociability, 344. 

on Weasel attacking man, 853. 

on Weasel den, S47. 

on Weasel family life, 846, 849. 

on storage by Weasel, 852. 
Burrowing owl and Rich. Ground-squir- 
rel, 391. 
Burrows figured: 

Badger, 1003. 

Beaver, 459, 461, 462. 

Coyote, 796. 

Deermouse, 502. 

Fox, 716. 

Mole-shrew, 1120, 1121, 1123. 

Muskrat, 545, 546, 548. 

Pocket-gopher, 569, 570, 573, 574, 

576, 577- 
Red-squirrel, 329, 330. 
Rich. Ground-squirrel, 386, 389. 
Striped Ground-squirrel, 399, 400. 
Woodchuck, 422. 
Bush-rabbit, see Rabbit, Snowshoe. 
Byers, W. N., on home-range of Antelope, 
on numbers of Antelope, 220. 

/^ABEZ on Buffalo in Te.'^as, 251. 

^^ Cabra or Antelope, 209, 

Cabrie or Antelope, 209. 

Cabrit or Antelope, 209. 

Cadham, Dr. Fred. J., on fighting Musk- 
rat, 553. 

Cadham, J. H., on Prairie-hare and dogs, 

on Prairie-hare in Manitoba, 657, 658. 
on Rabbit plague, 642. 
on Rabbit years, 641. 

Calder, A., freak Moose antlers (fig.), 156. 

Calling-mouse, sec Grasshopper-mouse. 

Cameron, W. F., freak antlers of Mule- 
deer (fig.), 122. 

Campagnol de Drummond, 515. 

Campagnol, petit, or Little Vole, 533. 

Campagnol rouge or Red-backed Vole, 

Canada-jay and Moose, 166. 
Canada Lynx, see Lynx. 

" Marmot, see Woodchuck. 
" Otter, see Otter. 
" Porcupine, see Porcupine. 
" Stag, see Wapiti. 
Canadian Flying-squirrel, see Flying-squir- 
rel, Canadian. 
Canadian Grouse or Spruce Partridge, 

prey of Lynx, 689. 
Canfield, Dr. C. A., on Antelope shedding 
horns, 222. 

on small home-range of Antelope, 216. 
Canis (genus), 749. 

(genus) compared with Vulpes, 706. 

albus, 753. 

arsipus, 703. 

ater, 753. 

cagottis, 793. 

clepticus, 793. 

estor, 793. 

frustror, 973. 

goldmani, 793. 

impavidus, 793. 

latrans, 789, 791, 793. 

" nebracensis, 791, 793. 
" texensis, 791, 793. 
" lestes, 791, 793. 
macrotis, 703. 
meamsi, 793. 
mexicanus, 749, 753. 
microdon, 793. 
muticus, 703. 
neomexicanus, 703. 
nubilus, 750, 753. 
occidentalis, 750, 753. 
ochropus, 793. 
pambasileus, 753. 
peninsulas, 793. 
rufus, 753. 
texensis, 793. 
velox, 700, 701, 703. 

" hebe, 701, 703. 
vigilis, 793. 
Carcajou, see Wolverine. 
Caribou, Woodland or American Rein- 
deer, PI. X, p. 187; XI, p. 196; XII, p. 
196, XIII, p. 206. 
biography, 187; names, 187, 190, 191; 
characters, size, 187; colour, life- 

Synoptic Index 


history, range, i88; Range IVIap 8, 
189; home-range, history, 190; 
kinds, 191, 192; antlers, antlers on 
does, 192 (figs.), 195; record ant- 
lers, 193 (fig.), 194; glands, grega- 
rious, 193; communication, voice, 
196; hoof-clicks, 197; hoof, 198 
(fig.), 199; snowshoes, tracks (fig.), 
hair, 200; swimming, tobogganing, 
enemies, 201; Lynx, 201, 693; 
migration, 201; wanderer, char- 
acter, 202; curious adventure, 203; 
poses (fig.), strange habits, food, 
204; scatology, PI. XIII, p. 206; 
spring life, young, mating, polyga- 
mous, 205; use. Reindeer in Alaska, 
sketches (figs.). Reindeer in Labra- 
dor, Reindeer age, 206; Caveman's 
drawing (fig.), 208. 
Carolina Bat, see Bat, Big Brown. 
Carson, Roland D., on Coyote care of 
young, 797. 

on dens of Wolves, 760. 
on storage habit of Wolves, 769. 
on young of Wolves, 761, 762, 763. 
Carter, Edwin, on abundance of Antelope, 

on Buffalo, 249. 

on effect of castrating deer, 120. 

on freak Elk antlers (fig.), 61. 

on freak antlers of Mule-deer (figs.), 

122, 123. 
on 3-comered duel of Mule-deer, 130. 
on snagged Mule-deer (figs.), 137- 
Cartier, J., discoverer of Wapiti, 40. 
Cartwright, Geo., on 72-point Caribou 
antlers, 193. 

on Wolverine carrying trap, 948, 955. 
on weight of Wolverine, 946. 
Case, W., on Porcupine numbers, 608. 
Cased Wolf or Coyote, 789. 
Casey, Dr., on Rabbit plague, 646. 
Casteneda describes Buffalo seen by Coro- 

nado, 252. 
Castor (genus), 447. 

" canadensis, 447, 448, 449. 
" " carolinensis, 448, 449. 

" " frondator, 448, 449. 

" " pacificus, 448, 449. 

" " te.xensis, 448, 449. 

Castoridas (Family), 427. 

Cat, domestic — tracks (fig.), 687. 
Catlin, Geo., on Buffalo bull and Wolves, 
on Buffalo battles, 288. 
on Buffalo calves hiding, 280. 
on Buffalo non-migratory, 262. 
on number of Buffalo killed, 297. 
on wallows of Buffalo, 285. 
on family hfe of Grizzly, 1044. 
Caton, John Dean, on size of Acapulco 
Deer, 69. 
on eye of Antelope, 228. 
on food of Antelope, 235. 
on growth of Antelope's horns, 222. 
on leaping powers of Antelope, 234. 
on protective odours of Antelope, 227. 
on weeping of Antelope, 229. 
on toe-glands of Caribou, 193. 
on antler substance of Deer, 60. 
on antlered does, 80. 
on Deer disease, 91, 92. 
on Moose monogamy, 175. 
on antlers of Mule-deer, 135, 156. 
on his low estimate of Mule-deer char- 
acter, 135. 
on persistence of tail-tuft in Mule- 
deer, 121. 
on polygamy of Wapiti, 53. 
on size of Wapiti, 38, 39. 
on WTiitetail and shedding of antlers, 

on Whitetail buck battle, 108. 
on fattening power of acorns on 

Whitetail, 104. 
on rut of Whitetail, 105. 
on weaning of Whitetail fawns, loi. 
Catesby, Mark, on Deer bots, 90. 

on Wapiti, 42. 
Cattalo, 299; (figs.) cow, 282; calf, 283. 
Caw-quaw or Porcupine, 605. 
Cerf de Virginie or Whitetailed Deer, 68. 
Cerf mulet or Mule-deer, 114. 
Cerf or Wapiti, 37. 
Cervidas or Deer Family, 37. 
Cervus (genus), 37. 

" canadensis, 37, 43. 

" elaphus canadensis, 37, 43. 

" hemionus, 114. 

" merriami, 40, 43. 

" nannodes, 40, 43. 

" occidentalis, 40, 43. 

" tarandus caribou, 187. 

1232 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Cervus virginianus, 68. 

Chamberlain, Montague, on young of 

Canada Lynx, 684. 
Champlain, Samuel de, his portrait of 

stag, 41. 
Chan-pah or Beaver, 447. 
Chapman, Frank M., on range of Wolves 

in Florida, 753. 
Charleson, J. S., on Flying-squirrel eaten 
by owl, 443. 

on Hoary-bat with 4 young, 1196. 
on Least Weasel range, 860. 
on Marten range, 903. 
on Raccoon near Brandon, 1013. 
on spring advent of Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 398. 
Charlevoix on Elan, 147. 
Chat or Canada Lynx, 677. 
Chauve-souris argent^e or Silvery-bat, 

Chauve-souris brunne or Big Brown-bat, 

Chauve-souris brunette or Little Browm- 

bat, 1 147. 
Chauve-souris de Say or Say Bat, 1163. 
Chauve-souris grisonn^e ou grise or 

Hoary-bat, 1191. 
Chauve-souris rouge or Red-bat, 1183. 
Chee-say or Canada Lynx, 677. 
Cheever, Mrs. H. Durant, on Wolves in 

New Brunswick, 753. 
Cheney, A. N., on Mink killed by owl, 889. 
on big-necked White-tailed buck, 106. 
on young of Northern Whitetail, 91. 
Ches-se-cow-e-pis-kus or Little Chipmunk, 

Chevreuil or Whitetailed Deer, 68. 
Chicago Acad, of Sci., owner of large 

Moose antlers, 158. 
Chicaree, see Red-squirrel. 
Chinche or Skunk, 966. 
Chipman, C. C, Raccoon on Peace River, 

Chipmunk, Common, Big, Eastern or 
Hackee, PL XXXHI, p. 337; LXXVI, 
p. 851. 

biography, names, size, 337; colour, 
races, life-history, range, 338; in 
Manitoba, Map 14, 339; Range 
Map 15, 340; environment, home- 
range, 339; dyed, non-migratory, 
341; disappearance, 342; abun- 

dance, 343-344; sociability, 344; 
spring coming, 345; voice, 346; 
mating, 347; breeding, 348; poses 
(figs.), 349; den, pertinacity, 350- 
351; young, habits, 352; climbing, 
353; and Weasel, swimming, food, 
354; bird-killer, 354-355; storage, 
355; cheek-pouches, 357; caches, 
358; stores, 359-360; diurnal, 
enemies, 360; Weasel, cuterebra, 
in autumn, 361 ; in winter, hiberna- 
tion, seven sleepers (fig.), 362. 

Chipmunk, Little. 

biography, names, 364; size, portrait 
(fig.), colour, 365; tracks (fig.), 
races, life-history, range, 366; in 
Manitoba, Map 16, 367; Range 
Map 17, 368; environment, home- 
range, 367; non-migratory, abun- 
dance, spring advent, 369; mating, 
habits, 370; nest, food, good-bye, 37 1. 

Chipmunk, Long-tailed, see Chipmunk, 

Chipping Squirrel, see Chipmunk, Com- 

Christy, Miller, on absence of earthworms, 

on Buffalo census, 300. 
on owls and Gophers, 571. 
on age of Hare, 672. 
on Little Chipmunk, 370-371. 
on Prairie-hare at Ft. Ellice, 658. 
on Rabbit plague, 645. 
on utilizing Rabbit plague, 645. 
on value of Silver-fox, 737. 
on Skunk aquatics, 984. 
on Stipa spartea, 286. 
on bird-eating by Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 405. 
Cinnamon Bear, 1052. 

" Blackbear, 1052. 

Citelle ou I'Ecureuil a treize raies or 
Striped Ground-squirrel, 394. 

on I'Ecureuil de Franklin or Frank- 
lin Ground-squirrel, 372. 
on rficureuil de Richardson or 
Richardson Ground-squirrel, 380. 
Citellus (genus), 372. 

" franklini, 372, 374. 
" richardsoni, 374, 380. 
" Striped, see Ground-squirrel, 

Synoptic Index 


Citellus tridecemlineatus, 394, 395, 396. 
alleni, 395, 396. 
" " badius, 395, 396. 

" " olivaceus, 395, 396. 

" " pallidus, 395, 396. 

" " parvus, 395, 396. 

" texensis, 395, 396. 

Clark, William, on sound sleep of Moose, 
on Wolverine in Peace River Valley, 
Clark, Geo. A., freak Elk antler (fig.), 61. 
Cocks, A. H., on mating and breeding of 
British Otter, 822-824. 

on Marten gestation and young, 913. 
on Marten having fits, 920. 
on Weasel gestation, 848. 
Collins, Dr. J. W., on foal becoming 

mother, 97, 183. 
Comegys, Jack, on Coyote drive, 794. 
Commensalism, ^^. 
Condylura (genus), 1136. 

" cristata, 1136, 1138. 

" macroura, 1140. 

Condylure a longue queue or Star-nosed 

Mole, 1 136. 
Condylure a museau fetoile or Star-nosed 

Mole, 1 136. 
Cook, A. J., on Chipmunk and snake, 

Cook, F. H., on record Moose antlers, 155, 

Cooper, R. C, on damage by Rich. 

Ground-squirrel, 390. 
Cooper Shrew, see Common Shrew. 
Cope, Prof. E. D., on ferocity of Mole- 
shrew, 1 134. 
Corbin, Austin, increase of Buffalo herd, 

Coronado discovers Antelope, 212. 
Cory, Charles B., on weight of Florida 
Bear, 1053. 
on weight of Florida Deer, 69. 
Coteau du Missouri, 7, 9. 
Coues, Dr. Elliott, on Antelope along 
Souris, 215. 
on Bufltalo range in 1874, 256. 
on origin of 'Cabrit,' 209. 
on Chipmunk at Pembina, 338. 
on solid-hoofed Deer, 83. 
on Fisher killing Coon, 939. 
on Fisher eating beechnuts, 938. 

Coues, Dr. Elliott (Continued). 

on range of Grasshopper-mouse, 485. 

on Mink going off with mallard, 893. 

on Mink in trap, 890. 

on Mink killing Muskrat, 884. 

on flushing a Prairie-hare, 665. 

on litters of Prairie-hare, 664. 

on range of Prairie-hare, 657. 

on unsociability of Prairie-hare, 661. 

on young of Prairie-hare, 663. 

on range of Red-backed Vole, 508. 

on Rich. Ground-squirrel eating flesh, 

on Rich. Ground-squirrel gregarious- 

ness, 384. 
on Rich. Ground-squirrel numbers, 

on duty of Rodentia, 409. 
on Weasel character, 849. 
on defective sight of Wolverine, 959. 
on food of Wolverine, 964. 
Cowan, R. W., on Badger pair, looi. 

on Kit-fox habits, 702. 
Cowbirds and Buffalo, 284. 
Coyote, Prairie-wolf, or Brush-wolf, PI. 
LXX, p. 790; LXXI, p. 798; LXXII, 
p. 802; L-XXIII, p. 808; LXXIV, p. 
814; LXXV, p. 814. 

biography, names, 789; size, 789-790; 
distant view of (fig.), 750; colour, 
790; races of, life-history, 791; 
range, home-range, 792; Range 
Map 43, 793; abundance, 794; 
sociability, intercommunication, 
795; mating, den (fig.), 796; young, 
migration, 797; tracks (fig.), food, 
799; habits, cunning, 800; catching 
Antelope, 800-802; catching Prai- 
rie-dogs, sheep-killers, 803; storage, 
omnivorous, 804; mange, 805; hid- 
ing in bam, mentality, 806; mind- 
reading, fighting, 808; speed, 809; 
incidents, 810; enemies, mad, 811; 
voice, 814; hybrids, killing, 815; 
pelt, group of howling (fig.), 816. 
Craine, Capt. Dick, on pairing of train- 
dogs, 759. 

on Wolves as train-dogs, 781. 
Crane, Nelson and pigmy Deer, 557. 
Cratogeomys, 563. 

Crawford, Geo. (Indian Chief Mittigwab), 
of Mattawa, on old Beaver, 453. 

1234 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Crawford, Geo. {Continued). 

on cannibalism of Blackbear, 1084. 

on home-range of Blackbear, 1058. 

on Fisher eating berries, 938. 

on Fisher killing Porcupine, 943. 

sought by calf Moose for protection, 

on Otter family life and habits, 826. 

on bleat of Whitetail, 106. 
Crawford, John, on Muskrat, 544. 

on family life of Weasel, 848. 
Crepuscularity, Bat scale of, 11 73. 
Crete, Ed. C, Lynxes fighting, 683. 

on family life of Mink, 882. 

the man treed by Moose, 184. 
Cricetus talpoides, 561. 
Crime among animals, 31. 
Crosby, S. L., on weight of Moose, 146. 
Curran, J. W., on Chipmunk swimming, 


on Weasel swimming, 854. 
Cuterebra in Chipmunk, 361. 
" in Jack-rabbit, 671. 
" in Red-squirrel, 322. 
" in Rich. Ground-squirrel, 301. 
" in Striped Ground-squirrel, 
in Vole, 531, 537. 
Cuvier on Bat sense, 1155. 
Cysts in Caribou, 183. 
in Hare, 647. 
in Moose, 182-183. 
in Mule-deer, 136-137. 
in Prairie-hare, 670. 

T^-MN fauve k queue blanche orWhite- 
^ tailed Deer, 68. 
Dain fauve a queue noir or Mule-deer, 114. 
Darby, E. W., remarkable Caribou antlers 

(fig), iQS- 

size of Coyote, 790. 

LjTixes in Winnipeg, 680. 

freak Moose antlers (figs.), 156. 

on 38-inch Moose bell (fig.), 163. 

freak antlers of Mule-deer (fig.), 123. 

on colour-variations of Wolf, 751. 

on range of Woodchuck, 420. 
Danicll, J. K., on Buffalo mothers, 279. 
Darwin, Charles, on earthworms, 578, 585. 

puzzled by incurved horns, 224. 
Davidson, J. L., on Porcupine and eagle, 

Dawson, Dr. George M., on Prairie 
steppes, 8. 

Decatur, S., large Moose antlers, 155. 

Deer, Blacktail, see Mule-deer. 
" killed by Lynx, 692. 

Deer, Mule, see Mule-deer. 

Deer, Scatology of, PI. XIII, p. 206. 

Deer, Virginian, or Whitetail, PI. V, p. 68; 
XIII, 206. 

biography, names, general characters, 
68; mid-leg gland compared with 
others (fig.), antlers compared with 
Mule-deer (fig.), size, 69; disc of, 
compared with others (fig.), 70; tail 
(fig.), 116; weight, 70; colour, 71; 
races, directive marks, 72; (fig.), 
70; discovery, life-history, 73; range, 
Range Map 5, 75; in Manitoba, 
home-region, 74; environment, 
numbers, 76; antlers, 78; antlers 
in trees (figs.), freak antlers (figs.), 
antler gnawed by Porcupine (fig.), 
79; antlered does, 80; freak antlers 
(6 figs.), 81; (fig.), 102; locked 
antlers (fig.), 82; freak foot, al- 
binism, 83; eyesight, 84; lifting 
head and tail together, 85; voice, 
86; enemies, snow, 87; Wolves, 
88; Foxes, 89; mosquitoes, etc., 
diseases, 90; accidents, 92; snag 
(fig.), gait, swimming, 93; tracks 
(figs.), 95; scatolog}', PI. XIII, 
p. 206; wallows, 94; salt-licks, 
life of doe, fawns, 96; jcetiis in 
jceto, 97; life of fawn, 98; hfe of 
buck, 101; hiding in water, 103; 
loves acorns, no social games, rut, 
104; November madness, 106; 
buck militant, 107; battle, duration 
of rut, 108; winter hfe, 109; tama- 
bility, treacherous pets, no; use to 
man, 112. 

Deermouse, Arctic, PI. XXX\'III, p. 499, 
XLV, p. 652. 

biography, 490; names, teeth (fig.), 
size, 491; colour, pouches (fig.), 
kinds, life-history, range, 492; 
Range Map 27, 493; en\'ironment, 
home-range, abundance, sociability, 
intercommunication, 494; drum- 
ming, voice, track (fig.), nest, 495; 
store-room, mating, gestation. 

Synoptic Index 


young, 496; nocturnal, food, 497; 
value, enemies, 498; scatology, PI. 
XLV, p. 652. 

Deermouse, Nebraska, 505. 

Deermouse, Prairie, PI. XXXVIII, p. 499. 
biography, names, life-history, range, 
499; Range Map 27, 493; home- 
range, 499; abundance, sociability, 
voice, singing, 500; mating, bur- 
rows, 501; nesting (fig.), breeding, 
502; young, nocturnal, food, 503; 
cannibal, value, storage, 504. 

Deermouse, Short-tailed, see Grasshopper- 

DeKay on Jumping-mouse and young, 


on game of Jumping-mouse, 594. 
Deming, E. W., on Mink killing Muskrat, 

SSS. 884. 
Denny, C. E., on Beaver robe of Buffalo, 

Denny, J. T., weight ofWhitetailed Deer, 70. 
Descriptions; three points of view, 24. 
deWeese, Dall, large Moose antlers, 158. 

on life of Moose, 146. 
Diabolism of a young Mink, 888. 
Diagram (fig. 1) of Zones and Faunas, 21. 
Dickie, Francis, on bearing season of Rich. 
Ground-squirrel, 385. 
on tailless Squirrel, 318. 
Dicrostonyx (genus), 516. 
Dimock, A. W., on Otter trapping, 838. 
Dipodidae (Family), 587. 
Dippie, G. F., on Hoary-bat at Calgary, 
on Least Weasel range, 860. 
on Red-bat at Galgary, 1184. 
on Silvery-bat at Calgary, 1167. 
Dipus americanus, 603. 
" hudsonius, 587. 
" mellivorus, 603. 
Discograph of Antelope, 224-227. 
Dobson, Bert A., on spring awakening of 
Blackbear, 1086. 
on Marten habits, 919. 
on Otter family life, 825. 
on Otter slides, 833. 
on mating of Porcupine, 610. 
Dodge, E. S., on weight of Antelope, 210. 

on large horns of Antelope, 223. 
Dodge, Col. R. I., on vast Buffalo herd, 
260, 262. 

Dodge, Col. R. I. (Continued). 

on Buffalo migration, 263-265. 
on Buffalo bulls protecting calf, 277. 
on Grizzly in Black Hills, 1033. 
Doherty, Paul, on home-range of Red- 
squirrel, 311. 
Doke-sesch or Mink, 872. 
Drane, R., on frugality of Hare, 669. 
Drewitt, Dr. J. D., on young Wolves in 

Zoo, 763. 
Dthen or Muskrat, 538. 
Duchesnay, E. J., on Mule-deer in British 
Columbia, 118. 

on abundance of Mule-deer in Okana- 
gan, 131. 
Dunham, M. P., on weight of Wapiti, 39. 
DuPratz, Le P., on Moose range, 150. 
Durburrow, Hon. A. C, introduction of 

Reindeer into Alaska, 206. 
Dyche, Prof. L. L., on Franklin Ground- 
squirrel numbers, 375. 
on size of Wapiti, 38, 39. 

■pASTMAN, Dr. Chas. A., on spring 
■*-' advent of Chipmunk, 346. 

on Muskrat storage, 554. 
Eaton, H., on numbers of Antelope, 220. 
Ecureuil rouge, ou de la Baie d' Hudson, 

or Red-squirrel, 307. 
Ecureuil volant or Flying-squirrel, 437. 
Ed-jer-ay or Buffalo, 247. 
Ee-hee-mo or Canada Lynx, 677. 
Eh-kahg-tchick-kah or Wapiti, 37. 
Eifrig, C. E., on Porcupine and owl, 617. 
Elan, Ellen, or Moose, 147. 
Elk, American, see Wapiti. 
Elk or Olke, first use of word, 41. 

" round-homed, see Wapiti. 
Elliot, D. G., on species of Wolverine, 

Ely, Dr. W. W., on castor, 470. 
Emlen, A. C, on fighting Muskrat, 553. 
Enfant du diable or Skunk, 966. 
Eptesicus (genus), 1177. 

" fuscus, 1177, 1178, 1179. 

" " bahamensis, 1178, 1179. 

" " bemardinus, 1178, 1179. 

" " cubensis, 11 78, 11 79. 

" " osceola, 11 78, 11 79. 

" " melanopterus, 1178, 

1 1 79. 

" " miradorensis, 1178,1179. 

1236 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Eptesicus fuscus peninsula, 1178, 11 79. 
" " propinquus, 11 78, 11 79. 

" melanops, 1181. 

Erethizon (genus), 605. 

" dorsatum, 605, 606, 607. 

" epixanthum, 607. 

" " couesi, 607. 

" " myops, 607. 

" " nigrescens, 607. 

" picinum, 606, 607. 

Erethizontidas (Family), 605. 
Erickson, Charles, on Lynx killing Deer, 

Ermine, Large, see Weasel, Long-tailed. 
Ermine of the Woods, 840. 
Es-see-ban or Raccoon, 1010. 
Es-see-pan or Raccoon, loio. 
Et-then or Caribou, 187. 
Eutamius (genus), 364. 

" quadrivittatus, 364, 366, 368. 

" " atfinis, 364, 366, 368. 

" " borealis, 364, 366, 368. 

" " felix, 364, 366, 368. 

" " gracilis, 364, 366, 368. 

" " luteiventris, 364, 366, 

" " neglectus, 364, 366, 368. 

" townsendi, 368. 

Evans, Col. W. P., on speed of famous 

Greyhound, 232. 
Evotomys (genus), 506, 517. 
" brevicaudus, 507. 

" califomicus, 507. 

" carolinensis, 507. 

" caurinus, 507. 

" dawsoni, 507. 

" " alascensis, 507. 

" gapped, 506, 507, 508. 

" " athabascjB, 506, 507, 

" " galei, S°6, 507. S°8- 

" " loringi, 506, 507, 508. 

" " ochraceus, 506, 507, 

" rhoadsi, 506, 507, 508. 
" saturatus, 506, 507, 
idahoensis, 507. 
mazama, 507. 
nivarius, 507. 
obscurus, 507. 
occidcntalis, 507. 

Evotomys orca, 507. 

" proteus, 507. 

" ungava, 507. 

" wrangeli, 507. 
Exterminating Ground-squirrels, 393. 


Antilocapridas, 209. 
Bovidae, 247. 
Canida, 700. 
CastoridiE, 447. 
Cervidas, 37. 
Dipodida;, 587. 
Erethizontida;, 605. 
Felida, 677. 
Geomyidae, 561. 
Leporidte, 621. 
Muridse, 480. 
Mustelida;, 817. 
Procyonidae, loio. 
Soricidae, logi. 
SciuridK, 307. 
Talpidae, 1136. 
Ursids, 1030. 
Vespertilionida, 1147. 
Fauna, Alaskan, 14. 
" Aleutian, 14. 
" Alleghanian, 17, 22. 
" Alpine, 14. 
" Barren-ground, 14. 
" Campestrian, 17. 
" Canadian, 15, 20. 
" Carolinian, 20. 
" Greenland, 14. 
" Hudsonian, 15. 
" Pacific Coast, 16. 
" Sitkan, 16. 
" Upper Sonoran, 20. 
Faunal Area defined, 14. 
" " Map 3, 18. 

" " table to accompany map, 19. 

Faunal areas of America, 14-22. 
" " of Canada, 11. 

" " of Manitoba, 20. 

Faunas and Zones (diagram), 21. 
Fear, G. M., freak antlers of Mule-deer 

(fig.), 122. 
Felis pardalis or Ocelot, related to L)'nx, 

Ferrets, Black-footed, paired, 847. 
Fiber (genus), 517, 538. 
" macrodon, 539. 

Synoptic Index 


Fiber obscurus, 539. 
" occipitalis, 539. 
" zibethicus, 538, 539, 540. 
" " aquilonius, 539, 540. 

" " hudsonius, 539, 540. 

pallidus, 539, 540. 
" " ripensis, 539, 540. 

" " rivalicius, 539, 540. 

" " spatulatus, 539, 540. 

Fieldmouse, Common, see Vole, Drum- 

Fieldmouse, Little, see Little Vole. 
Field Museum, record Moose antlers, 158, 

(fig.) 161. 
Figanifere on swarming battery, 11 73. 
Fisher, Dr. A. K., on horned-owl eating 
Bat, 1 1 75. 

on Big Brown-bat's time, 1180. 
on foes of Red-squirrel, 331. 
on swimming of Red-squirrel, 320. 
on owl killing Star-nosed Mole, 1142. 
Fisher, L. G., Prairie-hare with horns 

(fig,), 671-672. 
Fisher, Pekan, or Pennant Marten. PI. 
LXXXV, p. 1008. 

biography, names, 926; size, weight, 
colour, races, life-history, range, 
927; Range Map 50, 929; en- 
vironment, individual range, 928; 
abundance, mating, nest, young, 
930; unsociability, voice, habits, 
931; courage, mischievousness, 932; 
life studies (fig), 933; Coon-like 
habit, 934; swimming, 935; speed, 
etc., food, 936; tracks (fig. 223), 
937; omnivorous, rabbit-runner, 
938; fox-killer, coon-killer, 939; 
lynx-killer, deer-killer, 940; porcu- 
pine-killer, 941; scatology, PI. 
LXXXV, p. 1008; storage habit, 
fur returns, 943; value of pelt, 944. 
Fisher, W. H., on burrows of Woodchuck, 

Fisk, R. Clark, on liver worms of Deer, 90. 

on Deer accident, 92, (fig.), 93. 
Flat -homed Elk, see Moose. 
Fleming, Jas. H., bell on Cottontail (fig ), 
freak Moose antlers (fig.), 156. 
Flickertail, see Ground-squirrel, Richard- 
Flint, E. E., on Moose calling, 172. 

Flying-squirrel, Northern or Canadian, 
biography, names, size, colour, 437; 
relatives, races, life-history, range, 
affinity with alpinus, 438; Range 
Map 24, 439; environment, 440; 
home-range, abundance, sociabil- 
ity, voice, mating, nesting, young, 
441; mother-love, nursing, 442- 
443; enemies, owl, trout, hardiness, 
443; food, and candle, 444; sca- 
tology, PI. XLV, p. 652; speed, 
flight, play, 445 ; no swimmer, 446. 
Fontaint Paul, on Badgers at play, 1000. 

on Badger pairing, 1002. 
Fordyce, Geo. L., on Fox caches, 733. 
on Fox cubs, 721-722. 
on Fox-dens, 717, 721, 722. 
on mother Fox affection, 718-720. 
on habits of Least Weasel, 862. 
Forester, \ ., on flight of Caribou, 199. 
Forests, Prairies and Plains of America 

(map), 257. 
Fouine or Marten, 901. 
Foutereau or Mink, 872. 
Fox, Blue, see Blue-fox. 

" Kit, see Kit-fox. 
Fox, Prairie Red, PI. L, p. 700; LI, p. 
714; LII, p. 726; LIII, p. 730; LIV, p. 
730; LV, p. 734; LVI, p. 740; LVII, 
p. 740; LVIII, p. 744; LIX, p. 744; 
LX, p. 744; LXI, p. 744. 

biography, etc., 706; size, 707; dis- 
tant view of (fig.), 750; weight, 707; 
feet (fig.), 712; colour, 707; Sam- 
son, 709; freaks of colour, 707; 
life-history, range, 709; Range Map 
41, 708; abundance, 709; individ- 
ual range, 710; sociability, amuse- 
ments, voice, 713; mating, pairing, 
714; den (fig.), 716; ventilation, 
cleanliness, gestation, young, 717; 
mother Fox moving young (fig.), 
719-720; father Fox instinct, 720- 
722; habits, mentality, 723; when 
trapped, cunning, 724; non-migra- 
tory, speed, use of tail, 726; hunt- 
ing, 727; tracks (fig), 7ir; tracks 
in snow (fig.), 728; tracks of mother 
(fig.), 719; playing boulder, 729, 
(fig.), 730; mobbed by birds, 730; 
food, mouse-hunting, 731; storage 
habit, 732; scatology, 733, (fig.) 

1238 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

PI. LV, p. 734; hybridity, enemies, 
734; diseases, 735; killed by Porcu- 
pine, 734; killed by Lynx, 690, 
691, 692; killed by Fisher, 939; age, 
735; strange instances, fur returns, 
736; value of fur, 737; Fox- farm- 
ing for fur, 738-748; model Fox 
yard (fig.), 742; feeding in yard, 
743; breeding in yard, 744; profit 
in yard, 747. 
Franklin Ground-squirrel, .see Ground- 
squirrel, Franklin. 
Franklin, Sir John, on Eskimo licking 
presents, 325. 

his Ground-squirrel, 377. 
Eraser, George, of Kildonan. 

on Badger and lost boy, 1008. 
on dog and Wolf hybrids, 780. 
on Wolves in Manitoba, 767. 
Eraser, William Lewis, of New York, on 

young Wolves playing in water, 779. 
Freidrich, A., record antlers of Whitetail 

(fig), 80, 81. 
Fremont, J. C, on Buffalo calf and Wolves, 
on Buffalo battles, 288. 
on numbers and destruction of Buf- 
falo, 292, 293. 
Friendships of animals, 33. 

" Br. Badger and Fox, 33. 

" Fox and Rabbit, 33. 

" Badger and Coyote, 1008. 

" Badger and Child, 1008. 

" Squirrel and owl, 32S. 

/TAPPER, Anthony, an English natu- 
^-' ralist who discovered the Gapper 

Mouse, 506. 
Gapper Mouse or Red-backed Vole, 506. 
Garland, Hamlin, on game trails, 302. 

on Hare and wire fence, 669. 
Gates, Mrs. S. Young, on mad Coyote, 811. 
Gaufre, see Pocket-gopher. 
Gaufre gris or Pocket-gopher, 561. 
Gentry, T. A., on Red-squirrel living with 

owl, 328. 
Gcomyidae (Family), 561. 
Geomys bursarius, 563. 

tuza, 563. 
Gerbille du Canada or Jumping-mouse, 

Gibb, L. M., record Moose antlers, 155. 

Gillette, C. B., on insect-eating of Striped 

Ground-squirrel, 404-405. 
Gilpin, J. B., on horns of Caribou, 192. 
Glis canadensis, 416. 
Glutton, see Wolverine. 
Godman, John D., on Otter slides, 830. 
Gofif, John B., on Coyote chasing Ante- 
lope, 800. 

on Gopher- work, 576. 
on catching Mule-deer asleep, 134. 
Gomara, earliest portrait of Buffalo (A. D. 

1553) (fig-), 252, 253. 
Gopher, Pocket, see Pocket-gopher. 

" Striped, see Ground-squirrel, 

" Whistling, see Ground-squirrel, 

" Yellow, see Ground-squirrel, 
Gottschalk, A, on record horns of Buffalo, 

Gould, G. H., on Coronado's discovery of 

Antelope, 212. 
Grand Valley, Man., 8. 
Grant, Madison, range of Caribou, 189. 
on Bear coming to Moose call, 173. 
on Yukon Coyote, 792. 
on home-range of Fisher, 928. 
on Marten mating, 911. 
on development of Moose antlers, 159. 
on Moose in Catskills, 149. 
on rOrignac, 147. 

biography, names, size, colour, 483; 
skull (fig.), teeth (fig.), 484; races, 
life-history, range, 485; Range Map 
26, 487; population, environment, 
home-range, voice, 486; breeding, 
burrows, with Perodipus, habits, 
non-hibemant, 488; food, excre- 
ment, trapping, tracks (fig.), 489. 
Gray-gopher, see Pocket-gopher. 
Gray-vole, see Vole, Little. 
Gray-wolf, PL XLVII, frontispiece Vol. 
II; LXII, p. 750; LXIII, p. 754; 
LXIV, p. 760; LXV, p. 770; LXVI, p. 
774; LXVII, p. 774; LXVIII, p. 778; 
LXIX, p. 786. 

biography of, names, 749; size, size 
of female, distant view (fig.), 750; 
colour, 750-752; life-history, range, 
individual range, 752; Range Map 

Synoptic Index 


42, 753; abundance, 754; socia- 
bility, 755; mating, 756; pairing, 
756-757; life-long union, 757; 
monogamy, den, gestation, young, 
760; maternal instinct, 761; growth 
of young, feeding young, 762; 
enemies, 763; education, 764; his- 
tory, 765; habits, 766; never at- 
tacks man, 767; fishing, food, 768; 
moose-killer, storage, property in- 
stinct, 769; doping, voice, 770; 
intercommunication, smell power, 
odour glands, 771; Wolf telephones, 
club-register, 772; expression of 
scorn, expression of anger, 773; 
some remarkable Wolves, 774; 
courage of Wolves, 775; chivalry, 
776; tracks of (fig.), 777; speed, 
778, 809, 233; track described, 
strength, 778; swimming, social 
amusements, 779; sanitation, hy- 
bridity, as train -dogs, 780; doggi- 
ness, 781; latent ferocity, 782; 
diseases, 783; methods of killing, 
784; poisoning, trapping, 785; fur 
returns, 787; value of fur, howling 
Wolf (fig.), 788. 

Great Northern Bat, see Bat, Hoary. 

Grenfell, Dr. W. T., introduction of Rein- 
deer into Labrador, 206. 

Gridley, Lee R., on capture of an old Fox, 

on Skunks fighting, 983. 
Grieve, Geo., on cowbird wintering at 
Winnipeg with Buffalo, 284. 
freak Moose antlers (fig.), 156. 
on Rabbit years, 640. 
Grinnell, Geo. Bird, on Coyote catching 
Antelope, 801-802. 

on speed of famous Greyhound, 232. 

on habits of Long-tailed Weasel, 867. 

Grizzly-bear, PI. LXXXVIII, p. 1030; 

LXXXIX, p. 1046; XC, p. 1050; XCI, 

p. 1050; XCLX, p. 1086. 

biography, names, 1030; paws (fig.), 
size, 1031; weight, colour, 1032; 
studies (fig.), 1033; form, races, life- 
history, range, 1034; in Manitoba, 
1034, 1036, 1037; Range Map 55, 
1035; life studies (fig.), 1036; 
home-range, abundance, 1038; 
poses (figs.), 1039; gestation, young, 
1042; young (fig.), 1045; new-bom 

(fig.), 1043; family life, 1044; cap- 
tive breeding, habits, 1045; adult 
climbing, food, denning, 1046; 
trails, speed, swimming, strength, 
1047; and Johnny Bear, sanitation, 
1048; scatology, PI. XCIX, p. 
1086; and Death Gulch, mentality, 
cattle-killer, 1049; passing, 1050. 

Grizzly, dark -clawed, 1035. 
" passing away, 1050. 

Groundhog, sec Woodchuck. 

Ground-mouse, Long-eared, see Vole, Red- 

Ground-mouse, see Vole. 

Ground-squirrel, Bushy-tailed or Franklin, 

Ground-squirrel, Franklin, or Gray, PI. 
XXXIV, p. 372. 

biography, names, size, 372; colour, 
life-history, range, in Manitoba, 
Map 18, 373; Range Map 19, 374; 
environment, 373; home-range, 
abundance, sociabihty, spring ad- 
vent, 375; musical voice, den, mat- 
ing, breeding, 376; speed, mental- 
ity, drinks, food, 377; flesh-eater, 
377-378; migratory, enemies, win- 
ter-sleep, 379. 
Ground-squirrel, Gray, see Ground-squir- 
rel, Franklin. 
Ground-squirrel, Richardson, or Yellow, 
PI. XXXV, p. 380; XLV, p. 652. 
biography, names, size, weight, colour, 
380; life-history, range, in Mani- 
toba, Map 20, 381; Range Map 19, 
374; environment, 381; abundance, 
382; spring appearance, 383; home- 
region, sociability, 384; intercom- 
munication, mating, gestation, 385; 
nesting, burrow (fig.), 386; sca- 
tology, PI. XLV, p. 652; young, 
temperament, 387; speed, 388; 
food, 388-390; runways (fig), 389; 
storage, and Badger, 390; never 
drinks, enemies, 391; trapping, 
autumn life, service to man, 392; 
how to exterminate, the short way 
to school (fig.), 393. 
Ground-squirrel, 13-striped, PI. XXXVI, 
p. 394; XLV, p. 652. 

biography, names, size, colour, 394; 
races, life-history, range, 396; Range 
Map 21, 395; environment, num- 

1240 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

bers, 397; sociability, spring ad- 
vent, mating, 398; dens, etc., play- 
ground (fig.), 399; burrow (fig.), 
400; young, 401; voice, climbing, 
speed, mentality, 402; upright pose, 
diurnal, 403; tenacious of life, 404; 
food, 404-409; insect-eater, 404; 
lizard-cater, bird-eater, 405 ; mouse- 
eater, cannibal, 406; summary, 
storage, 407; never drinks, 409; 
scatology, PI. XLV, 652; enemies, 
409; parasites, cuterebra (fig), 
410; cases of cuterebra, 411-412; 
last days on earth, 412; hibernation, 
relation to albumen, 413; relation 
to man, 415. 
Ground-squirrel, Striped, name also of 

Chipmunk, p. 337. 
Ground-squirrel, Yellow, see Ground- 
squirrel, Richardson. 
Guernsey, Geo. F., Raccoon near Touch- 
wood Hills, 1014. 

on Prairie-hare at Qu' Appelle, 658. 
Gulo (genus), 945. 
" luscus, 945. 
" luteus, 946, 947. 
" hyliTeus, 946, 947. 
Gunston, C. J., on abnormal antlers of 

Whitetail, 81. 
Guzman, discoverer of Wapiti, 41. 

TLJACKEE, see Chipmunk, Common. 
•*• ■*• Hahn, W. L., on numbers of Wood- 
chuck, 420. 
Hallock, Charles, on Mink stealing fish, 

Hampleman, Lee, on Kit-fox cubs and den, 

Hanbury, David T., on Wolf as train-dog, 
on family hfe of Wolverine, 950. 
on food of Wolverine, 964. 
Hanford, D. R., on mother Hare and 

young, 632. 
Hardy, Campbell, on Caribou foot, 198 

(fig.), 199. 
Hardy, Manly, on habits of Fisher, 932. 
on Fisher killing Deer, 940. 
on numbers of Fisher, 930. 
on Fisher running Rabbits, 938. 
on Fisher killing Porcupine, 941. 
on value of unusual Fisher pelts, 944. 
on weight of Fisher, 927. 

Hare, Northern, see Rabbit, Snowshoe. 
Hare, Prairie, see Prairie-hare. 
Hargraves, J., freak Buffalo horn (fig.), 

Hariot, Thomas, on Virginian Deer, 73. 

on antlers on Virginian Deer, 73. 
Harlan, R., on Condylura macroura, 1140. 
Harris, Nelson, on Hare swimming, 639. 
Harrison, R. M., on family life of Wood- 
chuck, 426. 
Hart, W. W., on 28-point Elk (fig.), 6i. 

on large Moose antlers, 158. 
Harting, J. E., mother Rabbit fighting 

Stoat, 633. 
Hawkins, A. H., on Badger and Coyote 

friendship, 1007. 
Hawkins, Col. L. L., on Prairie-hare 

swimming, 667. 
Hayes, W. J., on size of Moose, 145. 
Hay-hah-kay or Wapiti, 37. , 

Hayt-kah-lah or Chipmunk, 337. 
Hayward, Daniel, on Marten habits, 914, 

Heame, Samuel (see Bibliog., 1795). 
on Blackbear eating insects, 1081. 
on numbers of Blackbear, 1056. 
on Marsh-shrew, 11 14. 
on Otter slides, 830. 
on Porcupine home-range, 606. 
on pairing of Wolves, 757. 
on friendliness of young Wolves and 

Indians, 764. 
on courage of Wolverine, 962. 
on food of Wolverine, 964. 
on strength of Wolverine, 960. 
Hedgehog, a misnomer of Porcupine, 

Helliwell, C. C, Buffalo in Manitoba, 
1882, 256. 
on Raccoon along Souris River, 1013. 
on range of Woodchuck, 418. 
Henry, Alexander, II. (see Bibliog., 1897). 
on Antelope at Pembina, 214. 
on Antelope on Souris, 215. 
on Beaver in Manitoba, 450-451. 
on colour variations of Blackbear, 

on food of Blackbear, 1083. 
on tame Blackbear, 1077. 
on tenacity of life in Blackbear, 1077. 
on Buffalo abundance along Red 

River, 253. 
on Buffalo killed by ice, 272-273. 

Synoptic Index 


Henry, Alexander, II. (Continued). 

on Buflfalo killed by prairie fires, 270. 
on Buffalo migration, 265-266. 
on Buffalo mother's fidelity, 281. 
on early abundance of Elk in Mani- 
toba, 46. 
on Fisher in Manitoba, 928. 
on Grizzly in Manitoba, etc., 1036- 


on man outrunning Lynx, 688. 

on Lynx numbers fluctuating, 698. 

on Lynx swimming, 688. 

on Marten range, 903. 

on Prairie-hare in Manitoba, 657. 

on Raccoon along Red River, 1012. 

on habits of Raccoon, 1021. 

on Skunk and Badger fight, 1007. 

on she-dogs as Wolf decoys, 780. 

on Wolf mange and madness, 783- 

on Wolf pups, 761. 

on Wolves as train-dogs, 780. 

on Wolves in Manitoba, 754. 

on pitfalls for Wolves, 784. 

on Wolverine along Red River, 948. 

on Wood-tick plague, 649. 
Hepburn, A. Barton, on family life of 

Mink, 883. 
Hermine or Ermine Weasel, 840. 
Herrara on Berrendos, 212, 214. 
Herrick, C. L., on Bat impregnation, 1152. 

on habits of Common Shrew, 1099. 

on food of Gopher, 567. 

on Ground-squirrel eating flesh, 378. 

on Porcupine eating water plants, 613. 

on range of Prairie Deermouse, 499. 

on Raccoon in Minnesota, 1012. 

on range of Star-nosed Mole, 1137. 
Hesperomys maniculatus, 490. 

" leucopus arcticus, 490. 

" " nebrascensis, 505. 

He-tong-ka-shah or Ermine, 840. 

" or Long-tailed Weasel, 

He-tu-kah-san or Ermine Weasel, 840. 

" or Long-tailed Weasel, 865. 

Hibernation of Big Brown-bat, 1182. 

" its relation to albumen, 413- 

Hind, Henry Youle, on Antelope along 
Souris, 215. 
on Buffalo along Souris, 254. 

Hind, Henry Youle {Continued). 

on Buffalo killed by prairie fires, 270. 

on Buffalo migration Map 12, 264, 

on Buffalo near Ft. EUice, 256. 

on Elk at Saguenay, 44. 

on scarcity of Elk in Manitoba, 46. 

on Marten numbers, 904. 

on Rabbit years, 640. 

on salt springs in Manitoba, 10. 

on balking the Wolverines, 958. 
Hine, William R. (for many years the 
leading taxidermist in Winnipeg). 

on Beaver weight, 448. 

on Black-fox near Winnipeg, 731. 

on last Saskatchewan Buffalo, 297. 

on Caribou slides, 201. 

on Coyote bands, 795. 

on Fisher in Manitoba, 927. 

on two Foxes working together, 725. 

on Fox using den in winter, 730. 

en family life of Mink, 882. 

on young Otters, 823. 

on Rabbit numbers, 643. 

on Raccoon near Winnipeg, 1014. 

on Red-squirrel nests, 314. 

on Red-squirrel and cuterebra, 322. 

on young Skunks blufhng, 974. 

on range of Star-nosed Mole, 1137. 

on Wolverine in Manitoba, 948. 

on range of Woodchuck, 418. 
Hill, Bird's, 7. 
Hills, Arrow, 8. 
" Brandon, 8. 
" Pasquia, 7, 8. 
" Tiger, 8. 
Hiskey, W. O., on singing of Prairie Deer- 
mouse, 500-501. 
Hoary-bat, see Bat, Hoary. 
Ho-cang or Badger, 995. 
Ho-cush-a or Woodchuck, 416. 
Hofer, E., on Yancey Beaver, 456. 
Ho-ka or Badger, 995. 
Hollis, Edwin, size of Coyote, 789. 

on pairing of Fr. Ground-squirrel, 

on Hoary-bat at Touchwood Hills, 

on food of Little Chipmunk, 371. 

on parasites of Little Vole, 537. 

on cuterebra in Meadow-mouse, 531. 

on Red-bat at Touchwood Hills, 1184. 

1242 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Homaday, Dr. William Ttrnple, Director 
of N. Y. Zoological Park, 
on Antelope, 212. 
on gait of Antelope, 231. 
on large horns of Antelope, 224. 
on size and colour of Antelope, 210. 
on Buffalo census, 300. 
on end of northern Buffalo herd, 297. 
on Buffalo existing in 1S71, 293. 
on extermination of Buffalo, 292. 
on Buffalo in District of Columbia, 


on Buffalo killed by bogs, 271. 

on Buffalo migration, 262, 265. 

on number of Buffalo in 1870, 296. 

on Buffalo range, 255. 

on size of Buffalo, 248, 249. 

on Buffalo slaughter, 294. 

on size of Caribou, 188. 

on estimate of Deer in Maine, 77. 

on treachery of pet Deer, no. 

on paternal instinct of Coyote, 797. 

on possible mind-reading in Coyote, 

on size of Moose calf, 168. 

on Rabbit plague, 647. 

on Red-bat as House-bat, 1189. 

on size of Wapiti, 38, 39. 
Horned-owl eating Bat, 1175. 
" " Mink, 889. 

" " Skunk, 988. 

Horton, Charles H., on trout snapping 

Squirrel's tail, 317. 
Ho-tang or Franklin Ground-squirrel, 372. 
Houghton, J. H., on grub-eating of Striped 
Ground-squirrel, 404. 

on numbers of Striped Ground-squir- 
rel, 397. 
House-bat, see Bat, Big Brown. 
Hoy, Dr. P. R., on hibernation of Striped 

Ground-squirrel, 413-415. 
Hoy Shrew, see Shrew, Hoy. 
Hudson's Bay Co., fur returns for 

Badger, 1009. 

Beaver, 477. 

Fisher, 943. 

Fox, Red, 736. 

Lynx, 699. 

Marten, 922. 

Mink, 896. 

Muskrat, 556. 

Otter, 839. 

Raccoon, 1029. 
Skunk, 989. 
Wolverine, 965. 
Hulbert, A. B., on Buffalo highways, 302- 

Humidity, Effect of, in distribution of life, 

Huronian Rocks, 3. 

Hutchins, Thomas, on cyst in Caribou, 
on epileptic Marten, 920. 
on Fox following Wolverine, 952. 
on home-range of Wolverine, 948. 
Hutchinson, Dr. Woods, on monogamy of 
Fox, 715. 
on the success of monogamy, 53. 
on monogamy of Wolf, 756, 759. 
Hypudaeus leucogaster, 483. 
Hystrix dorsata, 605. 

TG-MU-HO-TA or Canada L>tix, 677. 
Indian names. Treatment, 23. 
" " Authorities, x, xi. 

Introduction, 3. 
Ixodes in Hare, 648-649. 
" in Jack-rabbit, 671. 
" in Striped Ground-squirrel, 410. 
" in Whitetailed Deer, 90. 

TACK-RABBIT, Whitetailed, see Prairie- 
•^ hare. 
Jackson, Rev. Sheldon, Introduction of 

Reindeer into Alaska, 206. 
Jaeger, W. H., Raccoon near Edmonton, 

Jagger, Prof. T. A., on Death Gulch, p. 
and Plates XC and XCI, p. 1050. 
James, T. P. (ranchman of Clayton, N. 

M.), records 150-pound Wolf, 750. 
Jillson on Fr. Ground-squirrel plugging 

hole, 376. 
Johnston, Sir Harry, on nuptial pelage of 
Bats, 1 148. 
on effect of poison on Bat, 1160. 
Joncas, L. Z., on Wapiti at Victoria Lake, 

Que., 44. 
Jones, Col. C. J. (Buffalo Jones), on speed 
of Antelope, 232. 

on Bedson Buffalo, 299. 
on age of Buffalo, 292. 
on Buffalo clans, 276. 
estimate of Buffalo, 260. 

Synoptic Index 


Jones, Col. C. J. (Continued). 

on estimate of southern Herd of 

Buffalo, 294. 
on maternal feeling of Bufialo, 280. 
Jcsselin on Caribou, 190. 
Judd, E. T., on Rich. Ground-squirrel 

numbers, 382. 
Jumping-deer, see Mule-deer. 

biography, names, skull (fig.), 587; 
size, colour, races, life-history, 
range, 588; Range Map 35, 589; 
environment, home-range, abun- 
dance, unsociable, 590; voice, bur- 
rows, nesting, 591; mating, breed- 
ing, 592; young, 593; home-life, 
594; speed, 595; tail, 596; food, 
storage, 597; all hours, enemies, 
598; hibernation, 598, 603. 

T^AGH or Porcupine, 605. 

Kah or Snowshoe-rabbit, 621. 
Kahk or Porcupine, 605. 
Kearton, Richard, on Blackbear, 32. 
Kee-hah-cha or Red-squirrel, 307. 
Keele, J., on Wolverine killing Moose, 964. 
Kellogg, Dr. A., on song of Woodchuck, 

Kennicott, Robert, on Chipmunk den, 351. 
on Chipmunk climbing, 353. 
on Chipmunk foods, 354. 
on Chipmunk stores, 359. 
on Fr. Ground-squirrel eating flesh, 

on Fr. Ground-squirrel migration, 

on Fr. Ground-squirrel in tree, 373. 
on Fr. Ground-squirrel sociability, 

on Fr. Ground-squirrel den, 376. 
on Fr. Ground-squirrel pairing, 376. 
on burrow of Jumping-mouse, 591. 
on breeding of Jumping-mouse, 593. 
on food of Jumping-mouse, 597-598. 
on Least Weasel range, 860. 
on curiosity of Marten, 918. 
on Meadow-mouse foes, 528-531. 
on habits of Microtus austerus, 536. 
on voice of Mink, 877. 
on mating of Mink, 877. 
on burrows of Mink, 879. 
on voice of Mole-shrew, 1129. 

Kennicott, Robert {Continued). 

on senses of Mole-shrew, 1130. 
on pugnacity of Mole-shrew, 1131. 
on activity of Mole-shrew, 1132. 
on Otter paths, 820. 
on Otter den, 822. 
on Otter slides, 831-833. 
on Otter food, 835. 
on voice of Prairie Deermouse, 500. 
on mating of Prairie Deermouse, 501. 
on young of Prairie Deermouse, 503. 
on cannibal Prairie Deermouse, 504. 
on range of Red-backed Vole, 508. 
on number of Red-backed Vole, 509. 
on silence of Red -backed Vole, 510. 
on nest of Red -backed Vole, 510. 
on diumalism of Red-backed Vole, 

on drink of Red-backed Vole, 51a. 
on Skunk dens, 973. 
on 15 Skunks in one den, 972. 
on Skunk diet, 985. 
on range of Star-nosed Mole, 1137. 
on sociability of Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 398. 
on pairing of Striped Ground-squir- 
rel, 398. 
on young of Striped Ground-squirrel, 

on mouse-eating of Striped Ground- 

Squirrel, 406. 
on storage of Striped Ground-squir- 
rel, 408. 
on winter life of Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 412. 
on good service of Striped Ground- 
squirrel, 415. 
on range of Short-tailed Weasel, 844. 
on blood lust of Weasel, 851. 
on storage by Weasel, 853. 
on mouse-killing by Weasel, 856. 
Kenora, same as Rat Portage, Ont. 
Kerr, Thomas, of Carberry, on Coyote 

mange, 806. 
Ke-tong-ka-ska or Least Weasel, 858. 
Kirchhofler, Senator J. N., on Badger 

family life, 1003. 
Kit-chee-wah-boos or Prairie-hare, 654. 
Kitchi My-in-gan or Big Wolf, 749. 
Kit-fox or Swift. 

biography, names, size, colour, races, 
700; life-history, range, 701 ; Range 

1244 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Map 40, 703; environment, mating, 
701; dens, 702; habits, 702-705; 
food, speed, 704; study of (fig.), 
702; unsuspiciousness, 704; fur re- 
turns, African Kit-fox (fig.), 705. 

King-bird chasing Ground-squirrel, 405- 

Kin-kwa-har-gay-o or Wolverine, 945. 

Klay-zy or Grizzly-bear, 1030. 

Klee-ay or Red-squirrel, 307. 

Kloon-ay or Meadow-mouse, 515. 

Kromling, Abe, on Moose in Oregon, 149. 

Kus-kit-tay Mus-kwa or Blackbear, 1052. 

K wa - kwash - kan - ah - be - gah - not - see or 
Jumping-mouse, 587. 

Kwash-kwash-kwut-tah-be-gah-not-see or 
Jumping-mouse, 587. 

Kween-go-ar-gay or Wolverine, 945. 

^ Bat, 1 180. 

Lachnostema fusca eaten by Mole, 1143. 
Lagare, J. L., on Buffalo at Oak Lake, 

Man., 256. 
Lake Agassiz, Map 2, 6, 7. 
" Manitoba, 9, 10, 11. 
" Saskatchewan, 7. 
" Shoal, 10. 
" Souris, 8. 
" White Water, 10. 
" Winnipeg, 6, 7. 
" Winnipegosis, g. 
Langley, S. P., Buffalo census, 300. 
Lasionycteris (genus), 1166. 
Lasionycteris noctivagans, 11 66, 11 68. 
Lasiurus (genus), 1183. 
Lasiurus borealis, 1183, 1184, 1185, 1197. 
" " mexicanus, 1184, 1185. 

" " pfeiflferi, 1184, 1185. 

" " seminolus, 1184, 1185. 

" " teliotis, 1184, 1 185. 

" cinereus, 1191, 1193. 
Lapin or Snowshoe-rabbit, 621. 
Laurentian Rocks, 3, 4. 
Least Weasel, see Weasel, Least. 
LeConte, Dr. T. L., on cuterebra, 4T0. 
Lee, Harry E., on 57-point Caribou 

antlers (fig.), 194. 
Leeds, Abe, curious history of a fawn 
Mule-deer, 131. 
on Wolverine fighting Bear, 962. 
on pairing of Wolverine, 949. 

Leek, S. N., 18-point Wapid (fig.), 57, 58. 
Legg, John, on Elk pugnacity, 63. 
Leigbly, E. O., on carnivorous Woodchuck, 

Lemming-mouse, see Bog-lemming. 
Lemming-vole, see Bog-lemming. 
Le Moine, Father, discoverer of Wapiti on 

St. Lawrence, 41. 
Lemmus (genus), 516. 
Leporidre (Family), 621. 
Lepus (genus), 621. 

" americanus, 621, 622, 625. 

" " bairdi, 623, 625. 

" " bishopi, 622, 625. 

" " cascadensis, 622, 625. 

" " colurr.biensis, 623, 625. 

" " dalli, 623, 625. 

" " klamathensis, 623, 625. 

" " macfarlani, 623, 625. 

" " phoeonotus, 621, 622, 

" " struthopus, 622, 625. 

" " virginianus, 622, 625. 

" " Washington!, 623, 625. 

" campestris, 654, 655, 656. 
" " townsendi, 655, 656. 

" " sierrs, 655, 656. 

Les Carbot on range of Caribou, 190. 

on Elian, 147 (fig.), 148. 
Lett, N. H. H., abnormal antlers of White- 
tail (fig.), 81. 

ideal antlers of Whitetail (fig.), 102. 
Lett, W. P., on Elk on Ottawa River, 44. 
Lewis and Clark, first describers of Ante- 
lope, 230. 

on tolling Antelope, 234. 
on Fisher killing Raccoon, 940. 
on size of Grizzly, 1031. 
on discovery of Mule-deer, 116. 
on bounds of Prairie-hare, 666. 
on unsociability of Prairie-hare, 661. 
Lievre or Prairie-hare, 654. 
Life Zones of Canada, 11. 
Life Zones, Austral, 19, 20, 21. 
" " Boreal, 17, 19, 21. 
" " Transition, ig, 20, 21. 
Linklatcr, George, Algoma guide, 
on Cariboii calling, 196. 
on hornless Caribou, 192. 
on Caribou polygamy, 205. 
on Deer killed by Lynx, in Algoma, 

Synoptic Index 


Linklater, George (Continued). 

on home-range of Fisher, 928. 

on Fisher kiUing Foxes, 939. 

on Fisher kiUing Porcupine, 943. 

on Fisher swimming, 935. 

on home-range of Fox, 711. 

witnessed Lynx killing Fox, 691. 

on Lynxes at play, 682. 

on Lynx fluctuations and migration, 

on paternal instinct of Lynx, 683. 

on young Marten, 913. 

on home-range of Marten, 904